The Information Office of the State Council released a White Paper on Tibet today. Entitled Fifty Years of Democratic Reform in Tibet, the paper is a robust defense of China's position that compares the quelling of the 1959 Lhasa revolt and the subsequent abolition of serfdom in Tibet with Abraham Lincoln's war to abolish slavery in the American south.
The paper characterizes the Dalai Lama and his political allies as representatives of theocratic feudal serfdom whose interests fundamentally contradict those of Tibetan working people who are the overwhelming majority of the population. It characterizes the liberation of serfs and slaves, and the preservation of national unity, as progressive and just causes, and states that there is no possibility of restoring the old order, or of the Dalai Lama and his followers achieving their aim of "Tibetan Independence". It calls on the Dalai Lama to change his political position, and reiterates that the central government will always keep the door open for talks.
The paper points to high degree of self government enjoyed by the Tibet Autonomous Region and the high level of participation in the political process by the Tibetan population, reaching over 90 percent in 2007 local elections. It describes rapid advances in the economic and social spheres with GDP growth averaging 8.9 percent annually over 50 years, and 12.8 percent since 1994, in large part due to central government investment and preferential policies. Economic growth, it says, has qualitatively transformed people's lives, introducing modern medical care, housing, highways, modern industry and hydro-electric power.
The white paper describes government programs to promote Tibetan language not only through day to day use in schools, law courts and in government business but also by initiatives such as a 24-hour Tibetan language satellite TV channel. The paper also points to massive government support for the promotion and development of traditional Tibetan culture and religion, through extensive translation and publishing projects, as well as restoration programs and financial support for Tibet's monasteries and temples.
The full white paper, Fifty Years of Democratic Reform in Tibet is available on the China.org.cn website.
Fifty Years of Democratic Reform in Tibet
I. Old Tibet — A Society of Feudal Serfdom under Theocracy
II. Momentous Democratic Reform in Tibet
III. Tremendous Historic Changes over the Past Half-century