V. Regional Ethnic Autonomy Is the Fundamental Guarantee
for Tibetan People as Masters of Their Own Affairs
It should be recognized that regional ethnic autonomy has only been instituted in Tibet for a short time, and it needs to be improved and developed in the course of implementation. Since Tibet had very little to start with in terms of social development, and because of its high-altitude oxygen deficiency and other harsh natural conditions, the level of modernization in Tibet still lags far behind the coastal areas in southeast China. Tibet remains thus far an underdeveloped area in China. However, the basic fact is that in the nearly 40 years since Tibet adopted regional ethnic autonomy, it has turned from an extremely backward feudal serfdom into a modern socialist people's democracy, and during this process it has recorded rapid economic growth and all-round social progress and steadily narrowed the gap between it and other regions of China. As a member of the big family of the Chinese nation, Tibetans have won the right to jointly manage state affairs on an equal footing with other ethnic groups, and the right to autonomy as arbiters of their own destiny and masters of their own affairs. They have become the creators and beneficiaries of the material and cultural wealth of Tibetan society. The ethnic characteristics and traditional culture of Tibet are not only fully respected and protected, but also publicized and carried forward. Their contents are also being enriched along with the progress of modernization to make it more representative of the times. It is undeniable that the development and changes Tibet has undergone are visible to everyone and have attracted worldwide attention.
Historical facts indicate that the institution of regional ethnic autonomy in Tibet was the natural result of social progress in Tibet, and that it accords with the fundamental interests of the Tibetan people and the inexorable law of development of human society.To advance from a feudal, autocratic medieval society to a modern, democratic society is the inevitable law of development of human society from ignorance and backwardness to civilization and progress. It is the irresistible historical trend of modernization of all the countries and regions in modern times. As late as the first half of the 20th century, Tibet was still a feudal serfdom under theocracy. This, plus the policy of ethnic oppression practiced by domestic reactionary ruling classes over long years in various historical periods as well as invasion and instigation by modern imperialist forces, reduced Tibetan society as a whole to constant unrest. But, after the founding of the People's Republic of China, the Central Government brought peaceful liberation to Tibet, and instituted the Democratic Reform and regional ethnic autonomy there, completing the task of the anti-imperialist and anti-feudal national democratic revolution. As a result, Tibet broke away from the control of imperialism, leapfrogged several forms of society, and entered socialist society. Tibet saw the completion of the greatest and most profound social transformation in its history, and in its social development achieved a historic leap never before seen. This is in line with the law of development of human society and the progressive trend of the times. It also reflects the requirements of social progress in Tibet and the fundamental wish of the Tibetan people.
To institute regional ethnic autonomy in Tibet is the natural requirement for safeguarding national unification and national solidarity, and for the equal development and common prosperity of the Tibetan people and people of other ethnic groups in China.Over the long course of historical development, the Tibetan people together with people of other ethnic groups in China have created a unified, multi-national country, 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 for centuries gone through thick and thin together with the motherland for common development. 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 deplorable fate of being carved up and dismembered. After the founding of the People's Republic of China, under the unified leadership of the state and with generous support from other ethnic groups, the Tibetan people, through peaceful liberation and Democratic Reform, have come into their own and instituted regional ethnic autonomy. They have displayed unprecedented initiative, zeal and creativity, and brought Tibet onto the track of development in step with the other parts of the country. Historical facts indicate that without the unification and prosperity of the country and without the unity and mutual aid of different ethnic groups in China, there would have been no new lease of life and no rapid development for Tibet. By the same token, without the prosperity and development of Tibet, the complete modernization of China and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation cannot be achieved. The institution of regional ethnic autonomy in Tibet has integrated the unification of state sovereignty, the role of the people as masters of the country and the local autonomy of Tibet as an organic whole. This has provided a powerful guarantee for the Tibetan people to realize equal development and common prosperity together with other ethnic groups in China.
The institution of regional ethnic autonomy in Tibet is the logical outcome of the Tibetan people's adherence to development along the road of Chinese-style socialism under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, and also the basic institutional guarantee for Tibetans to be true masters of their own affairs.Regional ethnic autonomy is a basic policy of the Communist Party of China for solving ethnic problems. It embodies the essential requirement of Chinese-style socialism for equality, unity, mutual aid and common prosperity among all ethnic groups. It is a basic political system whereby the state guarantees that ethnic minorities are masters of their own affairs. Practice has proved that this system is commensurate with China's national conditions and the reality of the Tibet region, and is therefore full of vitality. Over the past 40 years, under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, the institution of regional ethnic autonomy in Tibet has effectively guaranteed the equal rights of the Tibetans in the big family of the Chinese nation and their right to autonomy in Tibet. The Tibetan people are entitled, without any discrimination, to the same equal rights as enjoyed by people of other ethnic groups in China in political, economic, cultural and social fields. They also enjoy the right of self-government to manage all affairs concerning their own region and ethnic group, as well as the right to special help and protection from the state, as prescribed by law. It can well be said that the regional ethnic autonomy instituted in Tibet not only comprehensively embodies the principles of equality, freedom from discrimination and special protection as stipulated in the United Nations' "Declaration of the Rights of People Who Are Minorities in Terms of Nationality, Race, Religion or Language" and other international documents on the protection of rights of minorities, but also fully embodies the advantages of Chinese-style socialism. Practice has proved that only by adhering to the leadership of the Communist Party, the socialist road and the system of regional ethnic autonomy can it be possible to truly make the Tibetan people masters of their own affairs and guarantee them this status. Only then can it be possible to safeguard and develop the fundamental interests of the Tibetan people, and guarantee the long-term stability and rapid development of Tibet.
It is thought-provoking that the Dalai clique, disregarding the fact that the Tibetan people have become masters of their own affairs and enjoyed full democratic rights and extensive economic, social and cultural rights, has constantly attacked Tibet's regional ethnic autonomy, in the international arena, as being "devoid of essential contents," and proposed the institution of "one country, two systems" and "a high degree of autonomy" in Tibet, after the model of Hong Kong and Macao. This argument is totally untenable. The regional ethnic autonomy in Tibet the Dalai clique attacks is the very regional ethnic autonomy for Tibet which the 14th Dalai supported and for whose preparation he was involved in. While preparing for the establishment of the Tibet Autonomous Region, the Central Government conducted full consultation with the Dalai and Panchen and other members of the upper strata in Tibet. In 1956, the Preparatory Committee for the Tibet Autonomous Region was established, with the Dalai as the chairman. In his opening speech at the inaugural meeting, he said, "The establishment of the Preparatory Committee for the Tibet Autonomous Region indicates that the work in the Tibet region has entered upon a brand-new stage." In his report at the inaugural meeting he again declared that "The establishment of the Preparatory Committee for the Tibet Autonomous Region is not only timely but also necessary" and that "we wholeheartedly support the policies of regional ethnic autonomy, ethnic equality and unity and protection for the freedom of religious belief implemented by the Communist Party of China and the Central People's Government." The Dalai's attack against the regional ethnic autonomy in Tibet runs counter not only to the reality of present-day Tibet but also to the words he once uttered in all seriousness.
The situation in Tibet is entirely different from that in Hong Kong and Macao. The Hong Kong and Macao issue was a product of imperialist aggression against China; it was an issue of China's resumption of exercise of its sovereignty. Since ancient times Tibet has been an inseparable part of Chinese territory, where the Central Government has always exercised effective sovereign jurisdiction over the region. So the issue of resuming exercise of sovereignty does not exist. With the peaceful liberation of Tibet in 1951, Tibet had fundamentally extricated itself from the fetters of imperialism. Later, through the Democratic Reform, the abolition of the feudal serfdom under theocracy and the establishment of the Tibet Autonomous Region, the socialist system has been steadily consolidated there and the various rights of the people have been truly realized and constantly developed. So the possibility of implementing another social system does not exist either. Regional ethnic autonomy is a basic political system of China, which, together with the National People's Congress system and the system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation led by the Communist Party of China, forms the basic framework of China's political system. The establishment of the Tibet Autonomous Region and the scope of its area are based on the provisions of the Constitution, and the law(s) on regional ethnic autonomy and decided by the conditions past and present. Any act aimed at undermining and changing the regional ethnic autonomy in Tibet is in violation of the Constitution and law, and it is unacceptable to the entire Chinese people, including the broad masses of the Tibetan people.
It must be pointed out that the local government of Tibet headed by the
Dalai representing feudal serfdom under theocracy has long since been
replaced by the democratic administration established by the Tibetan people
themselves. The destiny and future of Tibet can no longer be decided by
the Dalai Lama and his clique. Rather, it can only be decided by the whole
Chinese nation, including the Tibetan people. This is an objective political
fact in Tibet that cannot be denied or shaken. The Central Government's
policy as regards the Dalai Lama is consistent and clear. It is hoped
that the Dalai Lama will look reality in the face, make a correct judgment
of the situation, truly relinquish his stand for "Tibet independence,"
and do something beneficial to the progress of China and the region of
Tibet in his remaining years.