III. Historic Achievements that Capture World Attention
In the 60 years since its peaceful liberation in 1951, Tibet, under the leadership of the Central People's Government and with the support of people of all ethnic groups in China, and with the hard work of all ethnic groups in the autonomous region, has fulfilled two historic leaps from a society of feudal serfdom to one of socialism, and from a state of isolation, poverty and backwardness to one of opening, prosperity and civilization, scoring historic achievements in various undertakings that caught world attention.
1. Tibet has scored brilliant political achievements and made historic changes in its social system.
Since its peaceful liberation Tibet has abolished feudal serfdom, implemented regional ethnic autonomy and established socialism featuring people's democracy. The former serfs and slaves have since become masters of their own country and society. They enjoy both the right to equally participate in the administration of state affairs and the right to handle local and ethnic affairs on their own. In the elections of people's congresses at the autonomous regional, prefectural (municipal), county and township (town) levels in 2007, 96.4 percent of the eligible residents participated in the electoral process. Of the more than 34,000 deputies directly or indirectly elected to the people's congresses at the aforementioned four levels, more than 94 percent were members of the Tibetan or other ethnic minorities. Of the deputies to the current National People's Congress, 20 are from Tibet, including 12 Tibetans, one Monba and one Lhoba. People from all walks of life in Tibet also attend the people's political consultative conferences at various levels to participate in the deliberation and administration of state affairs, and to exercise their democratic rights. Among the deputies to the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, quite a number of them are Tibetans and a few are from the Tibetan religious circle. Since the founding of the Tibet People's Political Consultative Conference in 1959, an overwhelming part of the members have been Tibetans or members of other ethic minorities.
Regional ethnic autonomy has constantly been institutionalized. Statistics show that since 1965 the Standing Committee of the People's Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region has enacted 279 local regulations, resolutions and decisions with legal effect, which cover political power buildup, economic development, culture and education, spoken and written languages, justice, medical care and public health, relics protection, protection of wild animals and plants, protection of natural resources, and environmental protection. Now Tibet has established a legal regime of local autonomy, with autonomy-related regulations and separate regulations as the mainstay, protecting the special rights and interests of the people in Tibet in the areas of politics, economy and social life, and promoting the development of various local undertakings. These regulations have distinctive local features. They include the Regulations on Legislation of the Tibet Autonomous Region, Implementing Rules for Election of Deputies to the People's Congresses at Various Levels in the Tibet Autonomous Region, Resolutions on the Study, Use and Development of the Tibetan Language in the Tibet Autonomous Region, Resolutions on Maintaining National Unification, Enhancing Ethnic Solidarity and Opposing Secessionist Activities, Regulations of the Tibet Autonomous Region on the Protection and Management of Cultural Relics, and Regulations of the Tibet Autonomous Region on Environmental Protection.
Cadres of the Tibetan and other ethnic minorities constitute the main body of cadres in Tibet and the backbone of the construction and development of the region. Since the founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region in 1965, all chairpersons of the Standing Committee of the People's Congress and all governors of the People's Government of the Tibet Autonomous Region have been Tibetan citizens. Cadres of the Tibetan and other ethnic minorities account for 70.3 percent of the total at the autonomous regional level and 81.6 percent at the county and township levels. At present, Tibet has 54,000 specialized technical personnel, among whom 76.8 percent are from ethnic minorities.
2. The local people's living standards have been greatly improved along with leapfrog economic development.
Before the peaceful liberation, the economy in Tibet was in a state of stagnation, and the masses lived in dire poverty. Since the peaceful liberation however, the economy has leaped forward with each passing day. To boost local economic and social growth, the central government has adopted a series of preferential policies for Tibet in such areas as banking, finance and taxation, investment, infrastructure construction, industrial development, farming and animal husbandry, environmental protection, education, public health, science and technology, culture and physical education, and has rendered Tibet strong support in terms of finance, materials and manpower. The central government has never taken a cent from Tibet, but constantly increased the allotment in the central budget for Tibet. In the period from 1952 to 2010, the central government sent a total of 300 billion yuan to Tibet as financial subsidies, with an annual growth rate of 22.4 percent. Over the past 60 years the central government has allocated more than 160 billion yuan in direct investment to Tibet and approved at different periods 43, 62, 117 and 188 major projects respectively concerning Tibet's long-term development and its people's livelihood. Highways, railways, airports, telecommunications facilities, energy and other key infrastructural projects have been completed one after the other, thus greatly improving Tibet's infrastructure and its people's living and production conditions. Statistics show that from 1994 to 2010 state departments, provincial and municipal governments, and state-owned enterprises involved in the paired-up support program launched 4,393 aid projects in six batches, with a total of 13.3 billion yuan in aid funds and 4,742 cadres from across the country dispatched to work in Tibet.
Thanks to the care of the Central Authorities and the support of the whole nation, Tibet has witnessed a historic leap in its economic and social development. From 1959 to 2010 fixed assets investment in the region totaled 275.1 billion yuan, registering an average annual growth of over 15 percent. The figure was 264.3 billion yuan from 1994 to 2010, and the annual growth rate in that period was more than 20 percent. The local GDP soared from 129 million yuan in 1951 to 50.746 billion yuan in 2010, a 111.8-fold increase or an average annual growth of 8.3 percent at comparable prices. Since 1994 the local GDP has grown at an annual rate of 12 percent, registering double-digit growth for 18 years in a run. During the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010) Tibet's GDP exceeded 30, 40 and 50 billion yuan successively. In 2010 the per-capita GDP was 17,319 yuan, and the local budgetary receipts reached 3.665 billion yuan, showing an average annual growth of over 20 percent for eight consecutive years.
There was no modern industry in old Tibet. But the region now has a modern industrial system covering over 20 sectors with distinctive local features, including energy, light industry, textiles, machinery, mining, building materials, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, food processing, folk handicrafts and Tibetan medicine. The total industrial output value increased from 1.4 million yuan in 1956 to 7.561 billion yuan in 2010, registering an annual growth rate of 14.1 percent. Competitive industries with local features keep expanding. The Gyama copper-polymetallic deposit in Tibet has been put into operation and gone public in Hong Kong. Some specialty products, such as Lhasa barley beer, "5100 Tibet Glacier Spring Water" and Ganlu traditional Tibetan medicine have entered the market in other parts of the country as well as the international market. Tourism in Tibet has also maintained a sustained and rapid growth. Some 6.8514 million people visited Tibet in 2010, and the tourism revenue reached 7.14 billion yuan. Tibet is set to be one of the most popular destinations for visitors from all over the world.
Tibet's energy, transportation and other basic industries are also flourishing. On the eve of Tibet's peaceful liberation, there was only one 125-kw hydropower station in the region, which supplied electricity only to a handful of senior officials and aristocrats. Now, an extensive energy system has been formed, with hydropower as the mainstay, backed up by geothermal, wind and solar energy sources. In 2010 the installed power-generating capacity in Tibet reached 974,000 kw, and more than 82 percent of the population had access to electricity. The Qinghai-Tibet DC Power Transmission Line is under construction, which will link the Tibetan grid to those of the rest of the country. In the old days there was not a single highway in Tibet. Today, a comprehensive transportation network has taken shape, with highway, rail, air and pipeline transportation as the backbone. All townships and more than 80 percent of the administrative villages in Tibet have gained access to highways, which now total 58,200 km. China's last "isolated" county is soon to be connected to the country's highway network with the completion and operation of the Galung La tunnel on the Medog Highway. The operation of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway ended Tibet's history of being without railways. The navigation lighting project at the Lhasa Gongkar Airport, and the Nyingchi Menling Airport, Ngari Gunsa Airport, Xigaze Peace Airport have been completed and put into use, allowing night flights into and out of Tibet and greatly increasing the number of air routes. An airport layout has taken shape in Tibet, with the Lhasa Gongkar Airport as the main hub, and the Chamdo Bangda, Nyingchi Menling, Ngari Gunsa and Xigaze Peace airports as the branches, catering to 22 domestic and international air services. In old Tibet, letters were carried by people or beasts of burden and relayed via posthouses. Nowadays, Tibet has entered the information age, having established a modern telecommunications network with cables, satellites and the Internet as the backbone. It has also realized broadband coverage in all townships and telephone communication in all villages. ' In the old days Tibet's agriculture and animal husbandry were completely at the mercy of the weather. Nowadays, modern facilities have been widely introduced. The added value of primary industry (agriculture) in Tibet increased from 128 million yuan in 1959 to 6.813 billion yuan in 2010, registering an average annual growth of 4.8 percent. Grain output rose from 182,900 tonnes in 1959 to 920,000 tonnes in 2010. Meanwhile the grain output per mu (15 mu equal one ha.) rose from 91 kg in 1959 to 357.4 kg in 2008, with the number of livestock rising from 9.56 million head in 1959 to 23.21 million head at the end of 2010.
Before the peaceful liberation, more than 90 percent of the people in Tibet had no private housing, nor had they enough food and clothing. But over the past 60 years the Tibetan people's living conditions have constantly improved. In 1951 the per-capita housing of urban dwellers was less than three sq m, but the figure reached 34.72 at the end of 2010. Since 2006, with the construction of a new socialist countryside and comfortable housing project underway, 274,800 households, comprising 1.4021 million farmers and herdsmen, have moved into modern houses, and the per-capita housing space has increased to 24 sq m in rural areas. The aim of providing farmers and herdsmen living in poor conditions with comfortable houses has been realized. Tibet has also improved its facilities in the areas of water, electricity, highways, telecommunications, gas, radio and television, postal services and the environment in farming and pastoral areas, giving rise to historic changes in these areas. The coverage rate of postal services in townships, that of highways in townships, and that of highways in administrative villages have reached 85.7 percent, 99.7 percent and 81.2 percent, respectively. The region has provided safe drinking water for 1.532 million farmers and herdsmen, and iodized salt for 91.2 percent of the residents in farming and pastoral areas. In 2010 the per-capita net income of farmers and herdsmen was 4,138.7 yuan, registering a double-digit growth for eight consecutive years. The per-capita disposable income of urban dwellers stood at 14,980 yuan.
Meanwhile, the consumption pattern of Tibetan residents is becoming more diversified with improvement in their livelihood, and such consumer goods as refrigerators, color TVs, computers, washing machines, motorcycles and mobile phones have got access to ordinary homes. A survey shows that for every 100 rural households there are 73.45 color TVs, 52.64 mobile phones and 3.98 private cars, and for every 100 urban households in Lhasa, there are 63 PCs, 182 mobile phones and 32 private cars. Radio, television, the Internet and other modern means of information keep growing with progress in other parts of China and the rest of the world. They have become an integral part of people's daily life in Tibet as well.
3. Tibetan society has progressed in an all-round way, with all social undertakings flourishing.
In old Tibet there was not a single school in the modern sense. Education was monopolized by monasteries, and there were only a limited number of schools run by monks and officials. Almost all students in such schools were children of the nobility. The masses of serfs and slaves had been robbed off the right of receiving education. The enrollment rate for school-age children was less than 2 percent, while the illiteracy rate was as high as 95 percent among the young and the middle-aged, to say nothing of ignorance of modern science and technology. From 1951 to 2010 the central government invested 40.73 billion yuan to give a boost to Tibet's education. Now, Tibet has basically established an educational system with special local flavor and minority ethnic characteristics, which includes pre-school, primary and middle schools, secondary vocational and technical schools, institutions of higher learning, and adult and special education institutions. In 2010 Tibet had six institutions of higher learning, 122 junior and senior high schools, and 872 primary schools. The total enrollment was over 500,000. More than 20,000 Tibetan students are studying in Tibetan classes in schools of the hinterland. In 12 hinterland provinces and municipalities of China, 42 secondary vocational schools have classes for Tibetan students. Now the enrollment rate for primary school-age children of the Tibetan ethnic group has reached 99.2 percent; that for junior high school, 98.2 percent; that for senior high school, 60.1 percent; and that for institutions of higher learning, 23.4 percent. The illiteracy rate among the young and the middle-aged has fallen to 1.2 percent. The average educational period of people above 15 years old in Tibet has reached 7.3 years. The children enjoy "three guarantees" for compulsory education, i.e., the state guarantees all tuition as well as food and lodging expenses for students from Tibet's farming, pastoral or impoverished urban families from the pre-school period all the way to the senior high school period. Subsidies for each student in this regard have reached 2,000 yuan per year.
Science and technology in Tibet started from scratch and is growing rapidly. In 2010 Tibet had 34 independent scientific research institutes at various levels, nine private research centers, 140 organizations at various levels for popularizing science and technology in the fields of agriculture and animal husbandry, and 52,107 professional technical personnel who have completed 3,253 key scientific and technological programs at the autonomous region and state levels. The scientific and technological content of economic development has increased markedly. The rate of contribution made by science and technology to overall economic growth has reached 33 percent, and that to the growth of agriculture and animal husbandry, 40 percent.
Tibet's medical services are also constantly improving. Before the peaceful liberation, there were only three small, shabby government-run institutions of Tibetan medicine and a small number of private clinics, with less than 100 medical workers altogether. By the end of 2010 there were 1,352 medical institutions of all types and at all levels in Tibet, with 8,838 hospital beds and 9,983 medical workers. A healthcare system in farming and pastoral areas has been established, with funds from the government comprising the major part, backed up by family accounts, and comprehensive arrangements for serious diseases and medical relief. A medical and healthcare network covering all counties and townships, with Lhasa as the center, has taken shape. Now, all townships in Tibet have health centers and all villages have clinics. Thanks to improvement in medical services, the Tibetan people's health level has been raised. The death rate of women in childbirth has dropped from 5,000 per 100,000 to 174.78 per 100,000, and the infant mortality rate from 430 per thousand before the peaceful liberation to 20.69 per thousand. The average life expectancy has increased from 35.5 to 67 years. According to the sixth national census, the total population of Tibet increased from one million before the peaceful liberation to more than three million, of whom 2.7164 million or 90.48 percent were Tibetans.
Tibet has established a social security system mainly covering basic pension insurance, basic medical insurance, unemployment insurance for urban workers, industrial accident insurance and maternity insurance, which cover all urban and rural residents. From November 2009, with the initiation of the New Rural Pension Social Insurance, to the end of 2010, 73 counties (cities and districts) were made pilot areas to try out the policy, granting accumulatively 76.3155 million yuan of basic pension insurance payments to residents over 60 years old in farming and pastoral areas. Pensions received by enterprise retirees reached 2,439 yuan per month per person, higher than the national average. The inpatient reimbursement rate for urban residents covered by the medical insurance policy reached 75.1 percent. The highest reimbursement of medical expenses in 2010 was 130,000 yuan, 8.7 times the per-capita disposable income of 14,980 yuan of urban dwellers in Tibet. The number of Tibetan people underwriting policies of social insurance stood at 1.6623 million, and 1.732 billion yuan of various social insurances have been collected. Meanwhile, there were 527,100 employees in the urban areas, and the registered urban unemployment rate was 3.81%.
4. Ethnic culture in Tibet is enjoying unprecedented prosperity, and freedom of religious belief is respected and protected.
The central and regional governments always attach great importance to carrying on, protecting and developing the excellent traditional culture of the Tibetan ethnic group. The study, use and development of the Tibetan language are protected by law, and the Tibetan script has become the first ethnic-minority script in China that has international text coding standards for information exchange. The state has altogether apportioned 1.45 billion yuan to maintain and repair the Potala Palace, the Norbulingka and Sakya Monastery, and other cultural relics and historical sites. Tibet's 76 distinctive cultural items such as folk handicrafts, folk art and Tibetan opera have been listed among items of state-level intangible cultural heritage, and 53 people have been recognized as representatives of the state-level intangible cultural heritage. The Potala Palace, Jokhang Monastery and Norbulingka have been listed as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites. Tibetan opera and the famous Legend of King Gesar have been put upon the World Intangible Cultural Heritage list. Tibetan medicine, with unique local features, has entered the world market, and Tibetology research is flourishing as never before.
Tibet's radio, TV, press and publications are also growing rapidly. In 2010 the region had four radio stations, five TV stations, 27 medium-wave transmitting and relay stations, 68 radio and TV transmitting and relay stations at the county level, and 9,371 radio and TV receiving and transmitting stations at the township level. Tibet has built China's first ethnic-minority-language radio and TV program dubbing center - Tibetan Radio and TV Program Dubbing Center. More than 380,000 households can receive 55 digital radio and TV programs though the Direct Broadcasting Satellite. The radio and TV coverage rate has reached 90.28 percent and 91.4 percent, respectively. Tibet publishes 58 kinds of newspapers and periodicals, and has accumulatively published 12,000 titles of books in Chinese and Tibetan, totaling 250 million printed copies.
Tibet now has 10 professional art performing troupes, 500-odd amateur art performing and Tibetan opera teams, and 19 folk art performing groups at the county level. A large number of traditional festivals have been inherited and revived, such as the annual Shoton Festival in Lhasa, Qomolangma Cultural and Tourist Festival in Xigaze and Summer Horse Races in Nagqu. Tibet endeavors to extend radio and TV coverage to every village and household, share cultural information and resources and establish cultural centers at the county and township levels to enrich the cultural life of farmers and herdsmen. It also endeavors to realize the complete coverage of comprehensive cultural centers and county-level sharing of cultural information and resources. A number of literary and artistic works and programs have been created which have a strong local flavor and display the features of our times, and there have been great improvement in both their quantity and quality.
Freedom of religious belief of all ethnic groups is respected and protected in Tibet. All religions, all religious sects are equal in Tibet. The Living Buddha reincarnation system, unique to Tibetan Buddhism, is fully respected. People are free to learn and debate Buddhist doctrines, get ordained as monks and practice Buddhist rites. Academic degrees in Buddhism are also promoted. The central government has listed some famous sites for religious activities as cultural relics units subject to state or autonomous regional protection, including the Potala Palace, Jokhang Monastery, and Tashilhunpo, Drepung, Sera and Sakya monasteries. Tibet now has more than 1,700 venues for religious activities, and about 46,000 monks and nuns. Monks and laymen organize and take part in the Sakadawa Festival and other religious and traditional activities every year. More than one million worshipers make pilgrimage to Lhasa each year.
5. Ecological conservation has been progressing rapidly, and environmental protection is being strengthened in an all-round way.
Tibet serves as an important ecology safety barrier in China. In old Tibet macro-ecological conservation or comprehensive environmental protection was out of the question. But since the peaceful liberation, and especially since the adoption of the reform and opening-up policies, the central and regional governments have attached great importance to ecological conservation and environmental protection, and plowed in large amounts of funds, manpower and materials in these endeavors. In 2002 the central government decided to launch 160 key projects in this regard. During the 10th Five-Year Plan (2001-2005), the state granted 3.243 billion yuan for ecological and environmental protection in Tibet, and during the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010) the figure tripled to 10.162 billion yuan. The people's congress and people's government of the Tibet Autonomous Region have published more than 30 local regulations, regulatory documents and administrative rules covering ecological conservation and environmental protection. A relatively comprehensive system of environmental protection has taken shape. Meanwhile, Tibet actively carries out projects to protect its natural forests, and convert farmland into forest and pastures into grassland. It also makes efforts to control desertification and soil erosion, manage small watersheds and prevent geological disasters. Tibet led the whole country to initiate the ecological compensation mechanism for the protection of grassland. It has launched a project to replace firewood with clean energy, and 150,000 households have begun to use methane gas. Tibet is home to 21 ecological function conservation areas, seven national forest parks, three geological parks, one state-class scenic area and 47 nature reserves at various levels, accounting for 34.5 percent of the total land area of the region, topping any other part in China. The forest coverage rate has risen from less than 1 percent before the peaceful liberation to 11.91 percent at present, and more than six million hectares of wetland have been protected. According to the latest report on the state of the environment of China, generally speaking, there is no pollution of the atmosphere or water in Tibet. The region has basically maintained its original natural state, being one of the areas with the best environmental quality in the world. Tibet has embarked on a path of sustainable development, with economic growth and ecological protection advancing side by side. On March 2, 2009 the central government approved the Plan for Ecology Safety Barrier Protection and Construction in Tibet (2008-2030), with the projected investment amounting to 15.5 billion yuan.