IV. The Tibetan People Have the Freedom to Inherit and Develop
Their Traditional Culture and to Practice Their Religious Belief
Over the past 40 years, the Tibet Autonomous Region has fully exercised the right to autonomy guaranteed to it by the Constitution and the "Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy," administered and developed local cultural undertakings on their own, protected and sifted the Tibetan cultural heritage, developed and promoted Tibetan culture, and protected Tibetan people's freedom of inheriting and developing their traditional culture and practicing their religious belief.
Tibetan language is widely studied, used and promoted. The regional government promulgated and implemented the "Stipulations of the Tibet Autonomous Region on the Learning, Use and Promotion of the Tibetan Spoken and Written Language (Interim)" and its "Rules of Implementation" in 1987 and 1988, respectively, and revised the first as the "Stipulations of the Tibet Autonomous Region on the Learning, Use and Promotion of the Tibetan Spoken and Written Language" in 2002. These stipulations and rules make clear that equal attention be given to Tibetan and Han-Chinese languages in the Tibet Autonomous Region, with the Tibetan language as the major one, thus putting the work of using and promoting Tibetan spoken and written language on a legal basis.
Both Tibetan and Chinese languages are used in all schools in Tibet, with the Tibetan as the major one, and the textbooks and teaching reference books from primary to high school have been edited, translated into and published in Tibetan language. All the resolutions and regulations of the people's congresses at various levels in Tibet, and formal documents and public announcements of the governments at all levels and all governmental departments in the Tibet Autonomous Region are printed in both Tibetan and Chinese languages. In judicial lawsuits, Tibetan language is used when Tibetans are involved and in the writing of legal documents. The official seals, certificates, forms, envelopes, letter paper, standardized writing paper and emblems of all units, and the signs and logos of all government agencies, factories, mines, schools, bus and train stations, airports, shops, hotels, restaurants, theaters, tourist destinations, stadiums and libraries, and all the road and traffic signs and street names are all written in both Tibetan and Chinese languages.
At present, both radio and TV stations in Tibet have special Tibetan-language channels. There are 14 magazines and 10 newspapers published in Tibetan in the autonomous region. The Tibetan edition of the Tibet Daily is published every day, using advanced Tibetan-language computer editing and typesetting systems. In recent years, more than 100 titles of books have been published in Tibetan every year, with a circulation of several hundred thousand. The standardization of specialized terms and information technology in Tibetan has made great progress. The encoded Tibetan language has reached the state as well as international standard, making Tibetan the first ethnic-minority language in China to have attained international standardization.
The fine aspects of traditional Tibetan culture are being carried on, protected and promoted. Specialized institutions for salvaging, editing and researching Tibetan cultural heritage have been established by governments at all levels in the region. These institutions have collected, edited and published the Records of Chinese Dramas "Tibetan Volume," Collection of Chinese Folk Ballads "Tibetan Volume," and other collections of folk dances, proverbs, quyi ballads, folk songs and folk tales, effectively salvaging and protecting the excellent parts of traditional Tibetan culture. Life of King Gesar has been called the "king of world epics," as it is the longest of its kind in the world. The Tibetan people created it, and it has been transmitted orally for centuries. A special institution was founded in 1979 by the regional government to carry out all-round salvaging and editing of Life of King Gesar. The state has put it on the list of major scientific research projects, and organized the relevant research and publication work. After some 20 years of effort, more than 3,000 audio tapes have been recorded, almost 300 hand-copied and block-printed editions of the epic have been collected, and 62 volumes of the epic in Tibetan have been edited and published, with a distribution of more than three million copies. Meanwhile, over 20 volumes of its Chinese edition have been published so far, and some of them have been translated into and published in English, Japanese and French.
Since the founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region, a number of regulations on the protection of cultural relics have been promulgated and implemented. Altogether, some 300 million yuan has been used to renovate and open over 1,400 monasteries and to give timely repair to a large group of cultural relics. From 1989 to 1994 especially, the Central People's Government allocated 55 million yuan and a large quantity of gold and silver for the first-phase maintenance project of the Potala Palace. From 2001, the state has also earmarked 330 million yuan for the second-phase maintenance project of the Potala Palace and the maintenance of the two other great cultural sites of Norbulingka and Sakya Monastery.
Traditional Tibetan customs and habits are respected and protected. Tibetans and all the other minority ethnic groups in China enjoy the right and freedom to keep their traditional lifestyles and to engage in social activities according to their own customs and habits. While maintaining their traditional styles of costume, diet, and housing, they have also absorbed some modern and new healthy customs in clothing, food, housing and transportation as well as weddings and funerals. Traditional festivals such as the Tibetan New Year, Sakadawa (Anniversary of Buddha's Birth, Enlightenment and Death) Festival, Ongkor (Bumper Harvest) Festival, and Shoton (Yogurt) Festival, and many religious celebrations in monasteries are observed, while accepting different kinds of national and international festivals that have been introduced in recent years.
Tibetans fully enjoy the freedom of religious belief. Most of the people of the Tibetan, Moinba, Lhoba and Naxi ethnic groups believe in Tibetan Buddhism, while others believe in Islam and Catholicism. At present, there are over 1,700 venues for Tibetan Buddhist activities, with some 46,000 resident monks and nuns; four mosques and about 3,000 Muslims; and one Catholic church and over 700 believers in the region. Religious activities of various kinds are held normally, with people's religious needs fully satisfied and their freedom of religious belief fully respected.
The transmission lineage system of reincarnation of a great lama after his death is unique to Tibetan Buddhism, and this has been respected by the state and governments at all levels in Tibet. In 1992, the State Bureau of Religious Affairs of the State Council approved the succession of the Living Buddha of the 17th Karmapa. In 1995, according to religious rituals and historical conventions, the Tibet Autonomous Region completed the whole process of the search for and confirmation of the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama through drawing lots from a gold urn and the honoring and enthronement of the 11th Panchen Lama, and reported it to the State Council for approval. Since Tibet's Democratic Reform, altogether 30 Living Buddhas have been approved by the state and the government of the Tibet Autonomous Region. Tibetan clergy has also carried out a reform of the sutra learning system among the monks, which has greatly stimulated sutra-learning enthusiasm among the monks, and played a positive role in inheriting and developing Buddhist doctrines.
The stupendous work of collecting, editing, publishing and researching
religious classics has progressed continuously. Sutras and Buddhist classics
preserved in the Potala Palace, Norbulingka and Sakya Monastery have been
well protected. Ancient documents and books, such as the Catalogue of
the Classics in the Potala Palace, Snowland Library, The Origins of Religions
in Tewu, etc., have been rescued, edited and published. Since 1990, the
Chinese Tripitaka: Tengyur (collated edition) and the General Catalogue
of the Tibetan Tripitaka in the Tibetan and Chinese Languages have been
published. Of the Tripitaka, 1,490 sections of the Tengyur have been published,
in addition to offprints of Tibetan Buddhist classics of rituals, biographies
and treatises for monasteries to satisfy the needs of monks, nuns and
lay followers. The Chinese Buddhist Association Tibet Branch publishes
its Tibetan Buddhism journal in the Tibetan language. It also runs a Tibetan
Buddhist college and a Tibetan-language sutra printery. The state has
also set up the China Tibetan-Language Senior Buddhist College in Beijing
specially to foster senior personnel of Tibetan Buddhism.