III. The Historical Inevitability of Tibet's Modernization
Fifty years is a short period in the long process of human history. However, in the past 50 years Tibet, an ancient and mysterious land, has undergone tremendous changes far beyond comparison with those in any other era. Tibet has bidden farewell to the poor, backward, isolated and stagnant feudal serf society, and is forging ahead toward a modern people's democratic society featuring constant progress, civilization and opening-up, and its modernization drive has won world-renowned achievements. First, the situation in which a small number of feudal serf-owners monopolized Tibet's political power and material and cultural resources has been thoroughly changed, and all the people in Tibet have become masters administering Tibetan society, and the creators and beneficiaries of the society's material and cultural wealth. As a result, the people's status and quality have greatly improved. Second, the isolated, stagnant and declining old Tibetan society has been thoroughly smashed; economic development has advanced by leaps and bounds; people's material and cultural life has greatly improved; the modernization drive has developed in an unprecedented way; and an overall-progress situation has appeared in the constant reform and opening-up. Third, Tibet has thoroughly abolished ethnic oppression and discrimination and cleaned up the filth and mire left over from the old Tibetan society; Tibet's ethnic characteristics and the fine aspects of its traditional culture have won full respect and protection under the regional ethnic autonomy system; with the progress of the modernization drive, they have been imbued with the current contents that reflect the people's new life and the new requirements of social progress, and have thus been carried forward in a process of scientific inheritance.
The development in the past 50 years has demonstrated the historical inevitability of Tibet's march toward modernization, and revealed the objective law of Tibet's modernization.
Realizing modernization has been a common issue facing all countries and regions in the world in modern times, as well as a natural historical course when human society is changing from an underdeveloped state to a developed one, from ignorance and backwardness to civilization and progress, from relatively independent development in a closed society to high-speed development in an all-round way in opening-up, cooperation and competition. At the very beginning, modernization appeared following the rise and expansion of the capitalist countries in the West. For a considerable length of time, the big powers in the West monopolized the fruits of modernization and used them in the invasion and colonial rule in the Third World countries. With the rise of the decolonization movement in the 20th century, getting rid of poverty and backwardness and realizing modernization became the road that the Third World countries had to take to realize their complete independence and the invigoration of their nations. Historical development has proved that the modernization tide is enormous and powerful, that those who go with it will prosper while those who go against it will perish. Tibet's productive forces, mode of production and social and political systems in the modern era were in the extremely backward state of the Middle Ages, and came near the verge of collapse after Tibet was subject to imperialist invasion and control. Ending imperialist invasion and control, reforming the backward social and political systems and mode of production and realizing modernization have historically become the only way out and the most urgent question for social progress in Tibet. Since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, Tibet, through the peaceful liberation, Democratic Reform, socialist construction, and reform and opening-up, has broken away from the clutches of imperialism, entered the modern society of people's democracy from the feudal serf society that lagged far behind the times, realized high-speed economic development and all-round social development, and headed toward modernization step by step. All these comply with the world tide of modernization and the law of development of human society, and embody the demand for social progress in Tibet and the fundamental aspiration of the Tibetan people.
In the centuries-long course of historical development, our 56 ethnic groups, including the Tibetan ethnic group, have jointly developed China's territory, and formed the big family of the Chinese nation, in which all the ethnic groups share weal and woe, and are inseparable from each other. As an integral part of Chinese territory, Tibet has always gone through thick and thin together with the motherland for common development. Tibet's progress and development are closely related to those of the motherland, and the motherland's destiny directly affects Tibet's future. In modern times, China was reduced to a semi-colonial and semi-feudal society; Chinese territory, including Tibet, was subject to invasion and devastation by the big powers of the West; and China was confronted with the fate of being carved up and dismembered because of its weak national strength and the corruption and incompetence of feudal autocracy. Along with the victory of the national democratic revolution in China and the founding of the People's Republic of China, Tibet realized peaceful liberation, drove away the imperialist forces, took the course of modernization, threw off the heavy shackles of feudal serfdom through the Democratic Reform, and smoothed the road to modernization. As Tibet is a relatively backward area, its development has always been the concern of the Central Government and the people of all ethnic groups in China. In the past 50 years, the state has paid special attention to the social and economic development of Tibet. It has given a powerful impetus to Tibet's modernization by granting it special preferential policies in terms of finance, tax revenue, banking and other aspects, offering energetic support in capital, technology and human resources, investing an accumulative total of close to 50 billion yuan, sending a large amount of materials and dispatching a large number of cadres and technical personnel to help Tibet. We may well say that Tibet's progress and development in the past 50 years has been achieved under the correct leadership of the three generations of leading collectives of the central authorities, with Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin at the core in different periods. This has been inseparable from the unification and development of the motherland and the selfless support of the whole nation; it is also a vivid embodiment of the new ethnic relations of equality, unity, mutual help and common development among all ethnic groups in China.
History has proved that Tibet's modernization cannot be separated from that of the motherland, and the motherland's modernization cannot be realized without that of Tibet. Without Tibet's modernization, the motherland's modernization would be incomplete and incomprehensive. Without the independence and prosperity of the motherland, Tibetan society would not have new life and development. Only when Tibet's modernization drive is merged with the motherland's modernization and wins the support and help of the people throughout the country, can Tibet tightly grasp the historical opportunities, realize speedy development, and achieve constant progress and prosperity. The vigorous development of the motherland's modernization is powerful backing for Tibet's modernization. The correct leadership and sturdy support of the Central Government and the selfless support of the people of all ethnic groups in China are the powerful guarantee and necessary conditions for the speedy and healthy development of Tibet's modernization drive.
The focus must be put on man, so as to promote the all-round social progress
and sustainable development.
The course of Tibet's development over the past 50 years has been a process of continuous human emancipation and advance, as well as the all-round progress of society and the harmonious development of modernization and the environment. The people of all ethnic groups in Tibet have always been the mainstay and basic motive power behind the region's modernization drive, and also the beneficiaries of the results of its development. Tibet's peaceful liberation and the Democratic Reform emancipated the people of all ethnic groups in Tibet from imperialist invasion and the inhuman bonds of the feudal serfdom, making them masters of the nation and the Tibetan society. They showed enormous enthusiasm and exerted all their strength, and became the principal force propelling Tibet's modernization. With the sense of responsibility as the masters of their society, they took an active part in the great cause of building a new Tibet and a new life. They struggled in concert, advanced with a pioneering spirit, laid the first stone for the construction with arduous efforts, and upheld the principle that economic construction and social progress should be undertaken simultaneously, and the economy and environment developed harmoniously. In this way, they gave a mighty thrust to the modernization process of Tibet. The achievements attained in the 50 years of Tibet's modernization drive have fully demonstrated the success of the struggle of the people of all ethnic groups in Tibet and embodied the enormous strength of the Tibetan people. Experience has shown that the concerted struggle of the people of all ethnic groups in Tibet is the dynamo propelling the region's modernization drive. Only by maximizing the zeal, initiative and creativity of the people in Tibet and channeling the concern of the Central Government and the support of other parts of the country into Tibet's own advantages for development can miracles be created in Tibet's modernization drive. Moreover, only by proceeding from the fundamental interests and needs of the Tibetan people and adhering to the sustainable development strategy can Tibet's modernization drive develop quickly and soundly.
Located on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, Tibet is completely different from other regions in geographic environment, natural conditions, historical development, ethnic composition, religious beliefs, cultural traditions, lifestyle and customs. The region's modernization drive must proceed from the actual conditions of Tibet and take into account Tibet's history and reality. Its primary aim should be to spur the development of Tibet's productive forces and social progress, as well as the development and welfare of the people of Tibet. The adverse natural conditions, backward social and economic basis and the complicated background of Tibet's historical development in modern times dictate that Tibet must take modernization as the key link and realize rapid development with special support and help from the Central Government and the rest of the country. In addition, to realize the sustainable, all-round and harmonious development of society and the economy, Tibet must correctly handle the relations between reform, development and stability, utilize natural resources rationally and protect the ecological environment.
For historical reasons, most of the Tibetans in the region are religious believers and religious influences have permeated Tibetan culture, art, social customs and daily life. How to correctly handle the ethnic and religious problems is a long-standing issue of great importance in Tibet's modernization drive. The 50-year development of Tibet shows that accelerating modernization is where the basic interests of the people in Tibet lie, and also the key to the realization of ethnic equality and common development. It is an important guarantee for the sound development of Tibet's modernization drive to uphold the system of regional ethnic autonomy, ensure in practice that the people of all ethnic groups in Tibet, especially the Tibetan people, exercise the right of self-government in administering local affairs according to law, and completely respect their culture and traditions, customs and habits, spoken and written language, and religious beliefs. Only by observing the following principles can a modernization road with Tibetan local and ethnic characteristics be opened up: Focusing on economic construction; upholding the policies of reform and opening-up; combining the protection of the freedom of religious belief with separation of religion from politics; actively guiding religion to gear to the needs of modernization and social progress; and maintaining and promoting Tibet's ethnic characteristics while energetically developing modern industries, science, education and culture, and propelling the modernization of Tibet's traditional industries and culture.
As the question of Tibet's modernization emerged against a complicated historical background, it was inevitable that the modernization in Tibet was connected with international struggles. Over a long period of time, between the Dalai Lama clique and international hostile forces on the one hand and the Chinese Government and people on the other, there have been struggles on the "Tibet issue," with the former trying to split Tibet from the rest of China and halt its modernization, and the latter trying to maintain the unity of the country and promote Tibet's modernization. In modern times, a handful of the political and religious rulers in Tibet, in order to safeguard the vested interests of the serf-owner class and the crumbling feudal serfdom, tried by hook or by crook to hinder the modernization of Tibetan society, and even went so far as to collaborate with the imperialist aggressor forces to unleash the "Tibet independence" campaign, in an attempt to split the country and prevent the peaceful liberation of Tibet. After Tibet's peaceful liberation, the Dalai Lama clique, regardless of the patient forbearance of the Central Government and the strong demand of the Tibetan people, spared no efforts to try to check the Democratic Reform and modernization drive, and, with the support of international hostile forces, stirred up an armed rebellion for the purpose of splitting the motherland. When the rebellion had failed and the Dalai Lama clique fled abroad, it even did not scruple to collude with the international anti-China forces to constantly whip up world opinion, wantonly conduct activities aimed at splitting China, slander Tibet's achievements in economic construction and social progress, and by every means hinder and sabotage the modernization of Tibetan society.
The Dalai Lama clique and international hostile forces slandered the peaceful liberation of Tibet and the expulsion of the imperialist forces from Tibet as "China's occupation of Tibet"; denigrated the Central Government's efforts to propel Tibet's modernization as the "elimination of Tibet's ethnic characteristics"; misrepresented the rapid growth of Tibet's economy as "destruction of Tibet's environment"; vilified the concern and support of the Central Government and the whole nation for the modernization of Tibet as "plundering Tibet's resources," "intensifying control over Tibet" and "Han-Chinese assimilation of Tibet"; calumniated the abolition of theocracy and the secular privileges of the clergy and monasteries as "extinguishing religion"; distorted the promotion of traditional Tibetan culture in the new era and the unprecedented development of modern science, education and culture in Tibet as "extirpation of Tibetan culture," and so on and so forth. In a word, whatever was beneficial to Tibet's modernization and social progress and the happiness of the Tibetan people, they willfully misrepresented and left no stone unturned to oppose. This fully reveals the reactionary nature of the Dalai Lama clique, which represents the backward relations of production of feudal serfdom, the retrogressive religious culture of the theocratic system, and the interests of the dying privileged few of the feudal serf-owner class. Besides, it fully exposes the sinister mentality of some hostile foreign forces in their vain attempt to utilize the "Tibet issue" to sabotage the stability of China, split China's territory, and prevent China from developing and prospering.
Facts speak louder than words, and people have a sense of natural justice. It is universally acknowledged that Tibet is a part of China's territory, and the progress made by the Tibetan community is there for all to see. China has conformed to the trend of the times and followed the wishes of the people in its efforts to promote the modernization of Tibet and combat the Dalai Lama clique's separatist activities. It is only right and proper to do so. The history of 50 years since the peaceful liberation of Tibet shows that the trend of the times cannot be checked, and the tide of history is irreversible. Tibet's modernization and social progress are part of the general trend and popular feeling. Any lie will certainly be revealed by the objective facts of Tibet's development; any perverse acts to turn the clock back, prevent Tibet's modernization drive and separate Tibet from China are doomed to ignominious failure.
Human society has ushered in a new century, and peace and development are the two major themes in the world today. China has embarked upon the new development stage of building, in a comprehensive way, a society in which people enjoy a fairly comfortable life, and of accelerating the reform and opening-up and modernization -- a stage in which the strategy of large-scale development of the western region, as a part of the third-step development strategy of China's modernization drive, is being carried out in an all-round way. With a view to national development and the actual conditions in Tibet, the Fourth Forum on Work in Tibet convened by the Central Government set the strategic objectives for promoting Tibet's modernization in the new century, from simply speeding it up to ensuring a leap forward. The forum also determined to further intensify support for Tibet's development. In this regard, during the Tenth Five-Year Plan period (2001-2005) the Central Government and various parts of the country are to invest 32.2 billion yuan to assist Tibet in constructing 187 projects, and the Central Government is to subsidize Tibet to the tune of 37.9 billion yuan. In addition, other special preferential policies and measures are to be formulated. All this has created new and favorable conditions and rare opportunities for Tibet's modernization drive. It can be confidently asserted that, on the solid foundation laid over the last 50 years and with energetic support and help from the Central Government and people all over the country, Tibet will ultimately realize vigorous development in the process of its modernization drive through arduous efforts, and witness a still more brilliant and splendid future.
Notes 1. Melvyn C. Goldstein, A History of Modern Tibet (1913-1951): The Demise of the Lamaist State, University of California Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles, London, 1989-1991, pp. 37 and 2.2. Dongka Lobsang Chilai, On the System of Theocracy in Tibet, Ethnic Minorities Publishing House, 1985. Translated by Chen Qingying, pp.72-73.3. Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme, A Great Turn in the Development of Tibetan History, published in the first issue of the China Tibetology quarterly, 1991, Beijing.