China is a united multi-ethnic country. The Han-Chinese population makes up more than 90 percent of the total population. The populations of the other 55 ethnic groups, including the Tibetan people, are relatively small, and such ethnic groups are customarily called ethnic minorities.

In order to protect the equal and autonomous rights of ethnic minorities, the Chinese Government, in view of the reality that ethnic-minority people live together over vast areas while some live in individual concentrated communities in small areas, regards exercise of regional ethnic autonomy in areas where ethnic minorities live in compact communities as a basic policy for solving the ethnic issue and a fundamental political system for implementation of the people's democracy. Regional ethnic autonomy means, under the unified leadership of the state, regional autonomy is exercised and organs of self-government are established in areas where various ethnic minorities live in compact communities, so that the people of ethnic minorities are their own masters exercising the right of self-government to administer local affairs and the internal affairs of their own ethnic groups.

The Tibet Autonomous Region is one of the five autonomous areas in China at the provincial level where regional ethnic autonomy is exercised, as well as an ethnic autonomous area with Tibetans as the main local inhabitants. In the Tibet Autonomous Region there are a dozen other ethnic groups besides the Tibetans — Han, Hui, Moinba, Lhoba, Naxi, Nu, Drung and others. They have lived in the region for generations, and Moinba, Lhoba and Naxi ethnic townships have been established there.

Since regional ethnic autonomy was implemented in 1965 in Tibet, the Tibetan people, in the capacity of masters of the nation and under the leadership of the Central Government, have actively participated in administration of the state and local affairs, fully exercised the rights of self-government bestowed by the Constitution and law, engaged in Tibet's modernization drive, enabled Tibetan society to develop by leaps and bounds, profoundly changed the old situation of poverty and backwardness in Tibet, and greatly enhanced the level of their own material, cultural and political life.

To recall the four glorious decades of regional ethnic autonomy in Tibet, and to give an overview of the Tibetan people's dramatic endeavors to exercise their rights as their own masters and create a better life under regional ethnic autonomy is beneficial not only to summing up experiences and creating a new situation for regional ethnic autonomy in Tibet, but also to clarifying rights and wrongs, and increasing understanding of China's ethnic policy and the truth about Tibet among the international community.