กกกกAs the backward social system in the minority areas hindered the development of productive forces, reform of the social system, long cherished by the minority people, was the key to achieving prosperity.

      In places where minority people had the same or similar social economic structures as those in the Han areas, the people's government generally used more or less the same methods to accomplish land reform from 1950 to 1954, putting an end to land ownership by feudal landlords which had lasted for several thousand years.

      In the areas of the Tibetan, Dai and Yi people, still living under a slave system and feudal serfdom, positive but careful measures were taken by the state. A policy of redemption was employed towards some upper-strata elements. Reforms were carried out through consultation between the laboring people and the upper-strata elements. All forms of exploitation and privileges formerly enjoyed by the slave-owners and feudal serf-owners were abolished, with their land distributed to the land-poor and landless masses. All serfs and slaves were emancipated and given personal freedom and the right to live in political equality. Slave-owners and feudal serf-owners who accepted reforms, when their land was confiscated and their extra animals and farm implements requisitioned, were allotted a share of the land. Law-abiding and cooperative former slave-owners and serf-owners were even given certain political rights and the right to vote.

      What was not to be ignored, however, was the attitude of the upper-strata elements toward the reforms. In the Dai and Hani areas peaceful reforms were carried out through consultation with the upper-strata elements who accepted the country's policy, ending the serf system. But in Tibet, where entrenched feudalism resisted any political reform, an armed rebellion was staged in March 1959 by forces loyal to the Dalai Lama, Tibet's traditional spiritual leader. Troops of the People's Liberation Army quelled the insurrection. After Dalai Lama and his followers fled the country, land reform and the complete abolition of serfdom and exploitation were carried out.

      In the pastoral areas a more relaxed attitude was adopted in carrying out social reform. A policy of rehabilitation was employed towards all herd-owners. Because pastural economy was so much at the mercy of weather and livestock breeding could easily be sabotaged, no heated struggle took place, nor was the confiscation or redistribution of their herds allowed. What was ended was the system of feudal privileges surrounding herdowners and chieftains; pasture was placed under public ownership; free grazing was extended to major herdowners and poor herdsmen alike. Government aid was given to the poor herdsmen to compensate for their former suffering.

      In the course of social transformation, the herdsmen were relied upon to convert all who could be converted, and with a focus on the protection and development of livestock, pastoral mutual-aid teams and co-operatives were formed; herdowners were allowed to join state-private pastures and state pastoral farms.

      In the areas of the Jingpo, Lisu, Drung, Nu, Blang, Va, Jino, Oroqen and Ewenki ethnic groups, and some Li communities retaining vestiges of primitive communalism, no democratic reforms were carried out systematically. But efforts were made by the central government to help in the development of production, culture, mutual-aid teams and cooperatives; changes were made in obsolete practices and backward systems that hindered economic development.

      In line with China's policy on religious freedom and protecting religious relics and people's religious activities, positive but careful guidelines were worked out to distinguish religious beliefs from practices of oppression and exploitation. It was necessary to separate legitimate ecclesiastical practices from the feudal punishment system that allowed high clerical leaders to oppress the monks under their control. Active counter-revolutionaries had to be separated from those who simply clung to reactionary ideas, and it was deemed necessary to find those religious leaders who had incurred the real hatred of the guiltless masses. But it was also necessary to maintain a policy of non-interference in the normal religious activities of professional clerics.