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The Tibetan ethnic minority (11)


10:59, August 08, 2011

The great victory in the democratic revolution and the ensuing socialist transformation brought about tremendous changes to the whole Tibetan community. Since 1980, the central government has introduced a set of special policies to enable the Tibetan people to recoup their strength and make up for the damage they had suffered during the "cultural revolution" (1966-1976). The policies include remission of taxation on collective and individual producers for a long time to come; authorization of private use of land and livestock by households for a long time while public ownership of land, forests and grassland is upheld; protection of the farmers' and herdsmen's right of determination in production and encouragement of a diversified economy based principally on household operations; free disposal of farm and animal by-products on the market, and encouragement of individual and collective industrial and commercial enterprises. All these have brought forth the initiative of the Tibetan people and stimulated the growth of the local economy. Tibet has also received support and aid from the central government and other areas of China. From 1952 to 1984, the central government gave a total of 7.9 billion yuan to Tibet in the form of financial grants. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region, some provinces and cities and the state economic departments built 43 major construction projects in the region. These included a geothermal power station at Yangbajan, auxiliary facilities for the Qinghai-Tibet highway, the premises of Tibet University, a hotel, a theatre, a training center with audio-visual teaching aids and a stadium in Lhasa, a solar energy power station at Xigaze, and a hospital and an art gallery at Zetang.

Rapid developments have been reported by all trades and services in Tibet. Starting from scratch, Tibet's industry boasted more than 300 factories and mines by the end of 1984, covering power generating, metallurgy, woolen textiles, machinery, chemical engineering, pharmaceuticals, paper making and printing. They turned out more than 80 products, with a total value of 168 million yuan a year. The bleak and desolate Bangon, Markam and Qaidam areas have become major industrial centers. Good harvests have been reaped consecutively. In 1984, total grain output reached 494,000 tons and the animals in stock by the end of the year numbered 21.68 million, nearly double the 1965 figure.

Communications facilities also grew rapidly. There was no highway in Tibet before liberation. Since the People's Liberation Army marched into Tibet, several major trunk roads were built, including the Qinghai-Tibet highway (1954), the Sichuan-Tibet highway (1954), the Yunnan-Tibet highway (1976) and the Xinjiang-Tibet highway (1957) which linked up the Tibetan areas. A network of motor roads fanning out from Lhasa has been formed, extending to almost all counties. In 1984, the total length of roads open to traffic in Tibet reached 21,500 kilometers. The people's air force made the first successful flight from Beijing to Lhasa in 1956 and since then regular air services have linked Lhasa with Xining, Chengdu, Lanzhou and Xi'an. Roads also connect Tibet with the Kingdom of Nepal. The Longhai Railway runs through the Tianzhu Tibetan Prefecture in Gansu and the Qinghai-Tibet Railway starting from Xining has already reached Golmud in Qinghai.

An oil pipeline extending from Golmud to Lhasa--a significant project for strengthening the defense of the southwest China borders and developing the local economy-- has been completed.

Radical changes have also taken place in culture and education. The one million serfs who were deprived of education before liberation are attending schools in Tibet or nationalities institutes in other parts of the country. With no institution of higher learning before, Tibet had three such institutions by the end of 1985 as well as 2,600 middle and primary schools, with a total enrolment 87 per cent more than in 1965. Many Tibetan professors, engineers, doctors, veterinarians, agronomists, accountants, journalists, writers and artists have been trained. The Tibetan language and customs and habits are enjoying respect and the outstanding heritage of Tibetan culture has been carried forward. Medical and health organizations have been established in all parts of the region, which had more than 500 hospitals by the end of 1984. A special team of medical personnel are making a systematic study of Tibetan medicine and pharmacology.

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