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UPDATED: 16:39, May 23, 2004
China issues white paper on Tibet
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China issued Sunday, May 23, a white paper to acquaint the world with its ethnic policy and the truth about Tibet, and urged the Dalai Lama to "truly relinquish" his stand for "Tibet independence."

"The Central Government's policy as regards the Dalai Lama is consistent and clear. It is hoped that the Dalai Lama will look reality in the face, make a correct judgment of the situation, truly relinquish his stand for 'Tibet independence,' and do something beneficial to the progress of China and the region of Tibet in his remaining years," says the white paper, titled Regional Ethnic Autonomy in Tibet.

The 30-page white paper, released by the Information Office of the State Council, or the cabinet, is the first of its kind to focus on the "regional ethnic autonomy" policy long practiced in China's ethnic minority regions, as well as the substantial benefits this policy has brought to Tibet, which formally became one of China's five province-level autonomous regions in 1965.

"Regional ethnic autonomy means, under the unified leadership of the state, regional autonomy is exercised and organs of self-government are established in areas where various ethnic minorities live in compact communities, so that the people of ethnic minorities are their own masters exercising the right of self-government to administer local affairs and the internal affairs of their own ethnic groups," explains the paper.

With the implementation of the policy of regional ethnic autonomy, the Tibetan people enjoy full political right of autonomy, have full decision-making power in economic and social development, and have the freedom to inherit and develop their traditional culture and to practice their religious belief, says the paper, citing a series of facts and figures.

"Regional ethnic autonomy is the fundamental guarantee for the Tibetan people as masters of their own affairs," the paper concludes.

The issuance of the white paper appears to be a counteroffensive against the international propaganda and lobbying by the Dalai Lama, who alleged that the regional ethnic autonomy in Tibet was "devoid of essential contents" and proposed the exercise of "one country, two systems" and "a high degree of autonomy" in Tibet after the model of Hong Kong and Macao.

The white paper refuted the "attack" and "argument" of the "Dalai clique" as "totally untenable."

"The regional ethnic autonomy in Tibet the Dalai clique attacks is the very regional ethnic autonomy for Tibet which the 14th Dalai supported and whose preparation he was involved in," says the paper, citing the fact that the Dalai Lama was the chairman ofthe Preparatory Committee for the Tibet Autonomous Region when the committee was established in 1956.

"The Dalai's attack against the regional ethnic autonomy in Tibet runs counter not only to the reality of present-day Tibet but also to the words he once uttered in all seriousness," it adds.

The white paper says that the situation in Tibet is "entirely different from that in Hong Kong and Macao". "...the Central Government has always exercised effective sovereign jurisdiction over the region (of Tibet). So the issue of resuming exercise of sovereignty does not exist (as it had existed in Hong Kong and Macao)," it says. "...the possibility of implementing another social system (in Tibet) does not exist either."

The paper also states that regional ethnic autonomy is a basic political system of China and the establishment of the Tibet Autonomous Region and the scope of its area are based on the provisions of the Chinese Constitution, the laws on regional ethnic autonomy and decided by the conditions past and present.

"Any act aimed at undermining and changing the regional ethnic autonomy in Tibet is in violation of the Constitution and law, and it is unacceptable to the entire Chinese people, including the broad masses of the Tibetan people," the paper stresses.

It goes on to point out that the local government of Tibet headed by the Dalai Lama representing feudal serfdom under theocracy has long since been replaced by the democratic administration established by the Tibetan people themselves.

"The destiny and future of Tibet can no longer be decided by the Dalai Lama and his clique. Rather, it can only be decided by the whole Chinese nation, including the Tibetan people," says the paper. "This is an objective political fact in Tibet that cannot be denied or shaken."

The Dalai Lama fled China in 1959 after a failed armed rebellion aimed at separating Tibet from China. The rebellion was staged by "some people in the upper ruling strata of Tibet" "in order to preserve feudal serfdom," with the support of "imperialist forces," says the white paper.

After leading the Tibetan people to "quickly quell the rebellion," the central government implemented the Democratic Reform which overthrew the feudal serfdom under theocracy, abolished the feudal hierarchic system and emancipated a million serfs and slaves. "The Democratic Reform cleared the way for regional ethnic autonomy in Tibet," says the paper.

The paper notes that under the reign of the Dalai Lama, "even in the first half of the 20th century, Tibet remained a society ...even darker and more backward than medieval Europe." But after nearly 40 years of practice of regional ethnic autonomy, Tibet has "recorded rapid economic growth and all-round social progress," and the Tibetans have "become the creators and beneficiaries of the material and cultural wealth of Tibetan society."

"Historical facts indicate that the institution of regional ethnic autonomy in Tibet was the natural result of social progress in Tibet, and that it accords with the fundamental interests of the Tibetan people and the inexorable law of development of human society," the paper says.

Facts & Figures: Regional Ethnic Autonomy in Tibet
The following facts and figures were singled out from the government white paper "Regional Ethnic Autonomy in Tibet," issued by the Information Office of China's State Council:

5% vs. 95% -- Before the first half of the 20th century, Tibet remained a society of feudal serfdom under theocracy. The ecclesiastical and secular serf owners, though accounting for less than 5 percent of the population of Tibet, controlled the personal freedom of the serfs and slaves who made up more than 95 percent of the population of Tibet, as well as the overwhelming majority of the means of production. The right to subsistence of the broad masses of serfs and slaves was not protected, let alone political rights.

93.09% to 100% -- In 2002, when re-election at the regional, prefectural (city), county and township (town) levels took place in Tibet, 93.09 percent of electors in the autonomous region turned out to directly take part in the election at the county level. In certain places, the participation rate of local electorsreached 100 percent. Among the elected people's deputies, the proportion of deputies of the Tibetan and other minority ethnic groups was more than 80 percent at both regional and city (prefectural) levels, and more than 90 percent at both county and township (town) levels.

5 vice-chairmen of the NPC Standing Committee -- In the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of all previous terms, Tibetans including the 14th Dalai Lama, the 10th Panchen Lama, Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme, Pagbalha Geleg Namgyai, and Raidi once served, or are serving, as vice-chairmen. At present, 29 Tibetans and persons of other ethnic-minority groups from Tibetserve as members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee or members of its Standing Committee.Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme and Pagbalha Geleg Namgyai serve as vice-chairmen of the CPPCC National Committee.

220 local laws -- Since 1965, the People's Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region and its Standing Committee have enacted 220 local or separate regulations, covering political, economic, cultural, educational and other aspects, which have provided an important legal safeguard for protecting the special rights and interests of the Tibetan people and promoting the development of various undertakings in Tibet.

5 hours less -- Out of consideration for the special natural and geographical factors of Tibet, the Tibet Autonomous Region has fixed the work week at 35 hours, five hours fewer than the national statutory work week. Besides, subject to authorization, the legislative body of the Tibet Autonomous Region may also enact and implement flexible regulations and supplementary provisions with regard to relevant state laws based on the actual local situations.

3 percentage points lower -- Tibet is the only place in China to enjoy a preferential taxation policy at a rate three percentage points lower than in any other part of China, and where farmers and herdsmen are exempt from taxes and administrative charges. In banking, Tibet has all along enjoyed a preferential interest rate on loans two percentage points lower than in any other place in China, as well as a low rate on insurance premiums.

94.9 percent -- In close to 40 years since the Tibet Autonomous Region was founded, of Tibet's 87.586 billion yuan of financial expenditure, 94.9 percent came from Central Government subsidies.

22% -- By the end of 2003, there were 22 telephones for every 100 people in Tibet, with the total number of fixed and mobile phone users reaching 601,700.

2% to 91.8% -- The old Tibet had no school of the modern type, and the attendance rate of school-age children was less than two percent, with 95 percent of young and middle-aged people being illiterate. By the end of 2003, Tibet had 1,011 schools of various types and levels and 2,020 teaching centers, with a total of 453,400 students, the enrollment proportion of primary schools rising to 91.8 percent and the illiteracy rate dropping to less than 30 percent.

35.5 to 67 -- Infant mortality rate in Tibet has dropped from 43 percent before 1959 to 3.1 percent, and the average life span of the Tibetan people has increased from 35.5 years to the present67 years.

100 titles of books -- In recent years, more than 100 titles of books have been published in Tibetan every year, with a circulation of several hundred thousand. The encoded Tibetan language has reached the state as well as international standard, making Tibetan the first ethnic-minority language in China to have attained international standardization.

More than 20 years -- Life of King Gesar has been called the "king of world epics," as it is the longest of its kind in the world and has been transmitted orally for centuries. A special institution was founded in 1979 by the regional government to carry out all-round salvaging and editing of Life of King Gesar. The state has put it on the list of major scientific research projects, and organized the relevant research and publication work. After more than 20 years of effort, more than 3,000 audio tapes have been recorded, almost 300 hand-copied and block-printed editions of the epic have been collected, and 62 volumes of the epic in Tibetan have been edited and published, with a distribution in excess of three million copies. Meanwhile, over 20volumes of its Chinese edition have been published so far, and some of them have been translated into and published in English, Japanese and French.

46,000 monks and nuns -- At present, there are over 1,700 venues for Tibetan Buddhist activities, with some 46,000 resident monks and nuns.

30 Living Buddhas -- The transmission lineage system of reincarnation of a great lama after his death is unique to Tibetan Buddhism, and this has been respected by the state and governments at all levels in Tibet. In 1995, according to religious rituals and historical conventions, the Tibet Autonomous Region completed the whole process of the search for and confirmation of the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama through drawing lots from a gold urn and the honoring and enthronement of the 11th Panchen Lama, and reported it to the State Council for approval. Since Tibet's Democratic Reform, altogether 30 Living Buddhas have been approved by the state and the government of the Tibet Autonomous Region.

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