IV. Cultural Preservation and Freedom of Religious Belief
As an important part of Chinese culture, Tibetan culture attracts people from all over the world with its unique charm. Over the years, the Central Government and the government of the Tibet Autonomous Region have worked together to preserve and promote the outstanding traditional Tibetan culture while developing advanced socialist culture, and to protect places of unique folk cultures. Their efforts have reaped fruits, and Tibetan culture is now well preserved and developed.
Preserving and developing the spoken and written Tibetan language
The study and use of the Tibetan language and script are protected by law in China. The Constitution, Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy and Law on the Standard Spoken and Written Chinese Language have articles protecting the freedom of ethnic minorities to use and develop their own spoken and written languages. The Tibet Autonomous Region enacted the Several Provisions of the Tibet Autonomous Region on the Study, Use and Development of the Tibetan Language (For Trial Implementation), Detailed Rules for the Implementation of the Provisions, and the formal version, finally making this work solidly law-based.
Bilingual education, with Tibetan as the principal language, is widespread in Tibet. At present, primary schools in all farming and pastoral areas and some urban areas use both Tibetan and Chinese in teaching, but mostly Tibetan for the major courses. Middle schools also use both languages, and Tibetan classes in middle schools in inland areas also have lessons in Tibetan. By the end of 2012 there were 282,914 primary school students and 177,981 middle school students receiving bilingual education, accounting for 96.88 percent and 90.63 percent of the total respectively in Tibet. Now there are 23,085 bilingual teachers, and 3,700 Tibetan language teachers at schools at different levels.
Tibetan is widely used in political life. Resolutions, laws and regulations adopted at people's congresses at all levels, and formal documents and declarations published by people's governments at different levels and their subsidiary departments in Tibet are written in both Tibetan and Chinese. In judicial proceedings, Tibetan is used to try cases involving litigants of the Tibetan group; and the Tibetan language is used in writing the legal documents. Automation has been realized in the translation and interpretation departments of the Party Committee, People's Congress, People's Government and CPPCC office of the Tibet Autonomous Region, and such offices at prefecture and county levels. The word count of translation in Tibet is more than 60 million each year. Both Tibetan and Chinese are used in official seals, credentials and certificates, forms, envelopes and letter paper, writing paper, identifiers, signs of work units, factories and mines, schools, stations, airports, shops, hotels, restaurants, theaters, scenic spots, sports venues, libraries, and street and traffic signs.
More and more intellectual and cultural products in Tibetan are appearing. There are 14 Tibetan-language magazines and ten Tibetan-language newspapers in Tibet. Tibet People's Radio has 42 programs and columns in Tibetan (including Khampa); its Tibetan-language news channel broadcasts 21 hours a day, and its Khampa channel broadcasts 18 hours a day. Tibet TV Station has a Tibetan-language channel broadcasting 24 hours a day. In 2012 some 780 titles of books in the Tibetan language were published in the Tibet Autonomous Region, with a total of 4.31 million copies.
In addition, the use of Tibetan is becoming more and more IT-based. Computer coding of Tibetan characters has met the national and international standards. Tibetan editing, laser phototypesetting and electronic publishing developed independently by China are extensively applied. Through the Internet, mobile phones and other means, Tibetans can read, listen to and watch domestic and international news and get all types of information, which has become part of their daily life.
While preserving and developing the Tibetan language, the State also popularizes standard Chinese around the country, including in regions inhabited by ethnic minorities. According to the Law on the Standard Spoken and Written Chinese Language, "the State popularizes modern standard Chinese and standardized Chinese characters" and "every Chinese citizen has the right to learn and use the standard spoken and written Chinese language" so as to "promote economic and cultural exchanges between ethnic groups and regions." In addition, "The use of the standard spoken and written Chinese language should help maintain state sovereignty and national dignity, safeguard state unification and national unity, and promote socialist material, cultural and ethical progress." In China, no individual or organization shall oppose the popularization, study and use of standard spoken and written Chinese language on the pretext of protecting and developing the language and script of their ethnic group.
Preserving and carrying forward outstanding cultural heritages
Cultural relics and historic sites have been effectively preserved in the Tibet Autonomous Region, which has issued the Notice of the Tibet Autonomous Region People's Government on Strengthening the Protection of Cultural Relics, and Regulations of the Tibet Autonomous Region on the Protection of Cultural Relics, and some other laws and regulations to ensure that cultural relics are protected in accordance with the law and due procedures. Currently, Tibet has 4,277 cultural relics sites (including 55 state-level ones and 210 regional ones), and 2.32 million items of cultural relics are in their collection. The Potala Palace, the Norbulingka and Jokhang Temple are on the World Heritage List. Lhasa, Shigatse and Gyangtse are honored as State-level Historical and Cultural Cities. Tibet Museum is a state-level museum. Since 2000 the Central Government has invested 2.04 billion yuan in key projects for the preservation and maintenance of cultural relics in Tibet, among which more than 380 million yuan has been used in the three key projects of the Potala Palace, Norbulingka and Sakya Monastery.
The region's intangible cultural heritage has been effectively preserved, promoted and developed. The Regional People's Government and local prefectural (city) governments have set up special organizations to salvage, collate and study the Tibetan cultural heritage, making a general survey of the cultural and artistic heritage of the Tibetan group. These organizations have edited and published Chronicles of Chinese Dramas: Tibet; Collection of Folk Dances: Tibet; Collection of National Instrumental Folk Music: Tibet, and seven other collections, including over 10,000 pieces of folk music, songs and other art forms and over 30 million characters of literary data. Currently, Tibet has nearly 800 intangible cultural heritage projects, over 80 performance troupes of traditional dramas and 1,177 inheritors of such intangible cultural heritage. Tibetan opera and the Gesar epic have been included in UNESCO's Masterpiece of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Tibetan Thangka, Tibetan papermaking technique and 73 other cultural items have been included in China's Masterpiece of the Intangible Heritage, and 68 inheritors of such cultural items have been affirmed as representative inheritors of China's Intangible Heritage projects; 323 projects and 227 inheritors have been put on the Tibet Regional List of Intangible Heritage; and 158 books have been put on the State List of Valuable Ancient Books. The Ministry of Culture and Tibet Autonomous Region have named five places as national homes of folk art, 19 as regional homes of folk art, and two as homes of special art.
Developing traditional Tibetan medicine
The People's Government of the Tibet Autonomous Region has made the development of traditional Tibetan medicine a key part of its health care strategy. It has drawn up the Decision on Strengthening Traditional Tibetan Medicine Work, Opinions of the People's Government of the Tibet Autonomous Region on Providing More Support to and Promoting the Development of Traditional Tibetan Medicine and some other related documents. These measures are conducive to the protection and development of traditional Tibetan medicine. Tibetan medical establishments at all levels in Tibet exploit their advantages to the full, and study special traditional Tibetan medical treatment techniques and drugs and put them into practice. They collate ancient books, records and documents on traditional Tibetan medicine, and have compiled and published the Annotations on the Four Canons of Medicine and other important documents in this field. Currently, Tibet has 19 Tibetan medical establishments, and over 50 county-level hospitals have departments of Tibetan medicine, making Tibetan medicine accessible to people throughout the region. Traditional Tibetan drugs are now produced in modern factories instead of small manual workshops, meaning they are produced in scale according to standardized procedures. The 20 Tibetan drug manufacturers registered in Tibet all have the GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) certificate, and produce over 360 types of Tibetan medicine. Their products are sold in China and some foreign countries. The total value of their products reaches 100 million yuan or more. Traditional Tibetan medicine has gone beyond Tibet, and is now serving more and more people, both in China and around the world.
Respecting and protecting customs and folkways of ethnic minorities
The State respects and protects the right of all ethnic groups in Tibet to live and conduct social activities according to their own traditional customs and folkways; it respects and protects their freedom in attending normal religious service, performing sacrificial rituals, and taking part in major religious activities and folk festivals. While maintaining their traditional ways and styles of clothing, diet and housing, people of all ethnic groups in Tibet have absorbed new, modern customs in terms of clothing, food, housing, transportation, and wedding and funeral ceremonies. The Shoton Festival in Lhasa, Mt. Qomolangma Culture and Art Festival in Shigatse, Yarlung Art Festival in Shannan, the Great Canyon Culture and Tourism Festival in Nyingchi, Kham Art Festival in Qamdo, Horse Racing Festival in Nagqu, Shangshung Culture and Art Festival in Ngari, and some other festivals have been revived. National and international festivals such as the March 8th International Women's Day, May 1st Labor Day, June 1st Children' s Day, and October 1st National Day are becoming more and more popular. New customs and habits have been formed encompassing both national characteristics and spirit of the time. While the people' s material life keeps improving, every festival is a feast for the mind, giving them more and more recreational activities. Tibetan people like to spend the Incense Festival with relatives and friends; while Langma halls for song and dance performance and sweet tea houses are major places for Tibetan leisure and recreational activities.
Constantly enhancing public cultural services
In recent years Tibet has invested more and more in building its cultural infrastructure. Radio and television are accessible to every village and household, and there are libraries and cultural centers at county, township and village levels, popularized digital TV on the basis of cable TV and digital libraries, electronic reading rooms for the public, and other cultural projects for the people, including libraries in the countryside and monasteries and the Spring Rain Project, in which cultural volunteers from other parts of China go to the frontier to serve the people there. Through these efforts, the local government tries to protect the people' s cultural rights. By the end of 2012 Tibet had built eight people's art centers, 77 libraries, two museums, 73 county-level cultural centers, 239 township-level cultural stations, over 500 village cultural rooms. In addition, it had one regional center, 73 county-level sub-centers, 103 township-level stations, and over 3,000 village-level stations as part of the project for sharing cultural information and resources. As a result, a network of cultural facilities has taken shape, from the regional level at the top all the way to the villages at the bottom. In 2012 Tibet completed the task of providing radio and television access to 50,500 households of farmers and herdsmen, bringing the number of such households to over 85 percent of the total. Lhasa completed the digital conversion of cable TV in 131 communities, and built five core sub-platforms at the prefectural or city level. Digital film screening service is now available in all farming and pastoral areas, with films shown on over 130,000 occasions for free. In 2012 Tibet dubbed over 10,000 hours of TV programs and 75 films. It built 5,451 small libraries in the countryside and over 1,700 libraries in monasteries, making such facilities accessible in all administrative villages and all monasteries of Tibetan Buddhism. Tibet now has ten professional performing art troupes, over 20 county-level folk art troupes, over 160 amateur performing art and Tibetan opera troupes, and over 4,000 cultural and performing art professionals. Professional performing art troupes have worked harder in artistic creation, launching Princess Wencheng in Peking Opera and Tibetan Opera forms, Colorful Hada, Heavenly Tibet and Tibet Spring in song and dance performances, Liberation, Liberation and Tashigang in drama form, and a film titled Thangka. Moreover, Tibet has enhanced its cultural exchanges with other countries and regions. Over the past 60 years it has sent more than 360 groups or teams of nearly 4,000 people to over 50 countries and regions for visits and for performances in over 110 overseas cities. It has also received over 200 experts and scholars from over 30 countries and regions for performances, lectures and exhibitions.
Respecting and protecting freedom of religious belief
According to the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, Chinese citizens enjoy freedom of religious belief as a basic right. In Tibet, Tibetan Buddhism, Bon, Islam, Catholicism and some other religions coexist, and there are different sects within Tibetan Buddhism. After the democratic reform, Tibet abolished feudal serfdom under theocracy and separated religion from government, removed what had been tarnished by feudal serfdom and restored the true nature of religion, realizing true freedom of religious belief and religious tolerance between different religious beliefs and sects. The Central Government and the government of the Tibet Autonomous Region fully respect citizens' freedom of religious belief, respect and protect all religions and sects, and protect normal religious activities and beliefs according to law. Currently, Tibet has 1,787 places for different religious activities, over 46,000 resident monks and nuns, and 358 Living Buddhas. The majority of the people in Tibet believe in Tibetan Buddhism. Traditional religious activities such as scripture learning and debate, degree promotion, initiation into monkhood or nunhood, abhisheka (empowerment ceremony) and self-cultivation are held on a regular basis, while ceremonial activities are also held at important religious festivals. Living Buddha reincarnation is a special succession system of Tibetan Buddhism and is respected by the State. So far, over 40 incarnated Living Buddhas have been confirmed through traditional religious rituals and historical conventions.
In present-day Tibet it is not difficult to see prayer flags, Mani stones inscribed with Buddhist scriptures, and believers taking part in religious activities. Ordinary believers usually have a scripture hall or a Buddha shrine at home, and such religious activities as circumambulation while reciting scriptures, Buddha worship, and inviting lamas or nuns from monasteries to hold religious rites are normally conducted. The Tibet Autonomous Region and its seven prefectures or cities have each set up a Buddhist Society; the Tibet Branch of the Buddhist Association of China runs a Buddhist college, a sutra printing house, and a Tibetan-language journal - Buddhism in Tibet. Tibet has protected and repaired murals, carvings, statues, Thangka, sutras, religious ritual implements, shrines, and some other carriers of religious culture. It has also salvaged, collated and published a great number of religious books and records. It has promoted the development of conventional sutra printing houses at monasteries. There are now nearly 60 such sutra printing houses in Tibet, including one in the Moru Monastery and one in the Potala Palace; they print 63,000 sutra titles every year. In addition, there are 20 private shops selling these sutras. Regarding religious management, the State upholds the policy of separating religion from government; it strengthens the administration of religious activities according to law, prohibits religion from intervening in the country' s administration, justice system and education, and allows no individual or organization to use religion for illegal activities.