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Democratic Reform a historic stride for social system in Tibet
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Xinhua News Agency published an article by Hao Shiyuan, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), on Thursday, to hail that the Democratic Reform is historic stride for social system in Tibet.

Hao, who is also director of the CASS center for the study of Tibetan history and culture, has contributed the article to the Beijing-based Guangming Daily as part of the newspaper's serial articles to mark the establishment of the "Serfs Emancipation Day" by the Tibetan legislature on Monday.

Before the launching in 1959 of the Democratic Reform in Tibet, the highland area was under a hierarchical rule by monks and aristocrats, says the article, citing a book by Edmund Candler, an India-based correspondent of the British newspaper "Daily Mail", who entered Tibet with British army in 1905.

According to the British reporter's "The Unveiling Lhasa", Tibet was then under a feudalist serfdom, where peasants were slaves of lamas. He even compared the Potala Palace, the residence of Tibetan Buddhist leaders, with the bloodiest medieval castles in Europe in the Middle Ages.

The British journalist was so surprised at what he saw in Tibet that he depicted the Tibetan serfdom as unprecedentedly stubborn and dark.

The Communist Party of China (CPC), which represents the fundamental interests of the Chinese of different ethnic groups, is the only power which can lead the one million Tibetan serfs to end the hierarchical serfdom in Tibet, says Hao.

In 1951, the central government signed a 17-article Agreement with the local government of Tibet, which marks the peaceful liberation of Tibet.

In 1954, late Chinese leader Chairman Mao Zedong told the Dalai Lama, who was then a vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), the top legislature, that the central government was not eager to implement the Democratic Reform in Tibet, though the reform had been underway in other minority areas.

"It needs the consent of the Tibetan people and the will of the Han people must not be forcibly given to the Tibetan people," said Mao, who indicated that the central government was patient enough on the issue of Democratic Reform in Tibet, though "some Han officials might be" eager to carry out the reform.

The scholar explains that "some Han officials", who were not as patient as the central government, came to the idea to start the reform at an early time, because they witnessed that the Tibetan people were increasingly eager to end the serfdom, under which, the Tibetan serfs were living in an abyss of suffering.

Between 1952-58, the local government of Tibet had a financial income of 392.9 million yuan (about 52 million U.S. dollars), but 357.17 million yuan, or 91 percent, came from the central government. Meanwhile, the central government had invested a lot of money to build highways in Tibet. By 1957, the length of Tibetan highways topped 6,000 kilometers.

Under serfdom, however, Tibetan serfs could not enjoy the economic achievements in Tibet, which were made with the financial assistance by the central government, the article says.

The Buddhist monks, aristocrats and the local government were frightened by the bulging demand of the Tibetan people for carrying out the reform.

In 1955, a preparatory committee of the Tibet Autonomous Region was set up, with the Dalai Lama as the chairman and the Banqen Lama as a vice chairman. In the same year, some Tibetan aristocrats began plotting for armed rebellions.

Beginning in 1957, some Tibetan people were organized to lay siege to government organizations, kill government staff workers, and hold armed rebellions. In 1958, a large number of rebellious armed forces were set up in Tibet.

On Mar. 10, 1959, an all-around armed rebellion was launched by the local government of Tibet and the stubborn upper-class forces, and the Dalai Lama went into exile, in betrayal of the nation and the Tibetan people.

The Tibetan hierarchical ruling forces headed by the Dalai Lama held the 1959 armed rebellion - an attempt to safeguard the feudalist serfdom and their fundamental interests, oppose all kinds of changes in Tibet, and seek for "Tibetan independence", according to the article.

On Mar. 28, the central government dissolved the local government of Tibet and replaced it with the preparatory committee, while launching the Democratic Reform, which allowed the Tibetan people to step in the process of a modern social development. Since then, a series of reform policies and measures had been issued to abolish the old system and set up a new system.

In 1961, the Democratic Reform was initially completed as the 1million emancipated Tibetan serfs became the master of Tibet and people's governments were set up across the autonomous region.

Thanks to the support of the central government, the Tibetan economy had achieved a big progress. As of 1965, the grain output in Tibet reached 290 million kilograms, an 88.6 percent increase over 1958, while the number of the livestock stood at over 18 million, an increase of 54.1 percent comparing with that of 1958.

On Sept. 1, 1965, the Tibet Autonomous Region was established, which marks the beginning of a socialist drive in Tibet, a historic stride for social system in Tibet, the article says.

(Xinhua News Agency January 23, 2009)

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