Tibet policies enrich region's development

During an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel published on March 26, the 14th Dalai Lama attacked the Chinese government as "dividing Tibet by letting other provinces govern parts of Tibet". He also claimed that Tibet was "suffering cultural homicide".

The Dalai Lama named himself "the spokesperson of all 6 million Tibetan people" and peddled his idea of "greater autonomy" in Tibet and the Tibetan habitats in provinces neighboring the Tibet Autonomous Region.

The Dalai Lama is playing with words by adding the modifier "greater" to "autonomy" in an attempt to mislead people. It is actually another word for "Tibet independence" sought by the Dalai Lama over the last decades.

The 14th Dalai Lama fervently pursues separating Tibet from China. Ever since he fled Tibet in 1959, the Dalai Lama has stressed in all his public statements, speeches and talks that Tibet should be an independent state.

To prepare for his secessionist efforts, the Dalai Lama also set up the so-called "Tibetan government in exile" and "people's congress of Tibet" in the early 1960s in Dharamsala, India. A "constitution" was promulgated, and an armed force named "Religion Guards of the Four Rivers and Six Ranges" was built in Mustang, Nepal.

The Dalai clique also set up organizations in many countries to enhance its influence among Tibetans living there, such as "the Tibetan Youth Congress" and "the National Democratic Party of Tibet". All these organizations are still working for "Tibet independence" except the "Religion Guards of the Four Rivers and Six Ranges". They were wiped out by the national army of Nepal in 1974.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the world saw dramatic changes. Many countries, including India and the United States, began to have closer ties with China. The Dalai clique received less support from these countries in both financial and political terms. The Dalai Lama was forced to tone down his announcements in that period by declaring that he would give up claiming "Tibetan independence".

The central government actively responded to this declaration. It formulated and practiced the policy of free movement in and out of the country for local and overseas Tibetan people.

However, the Dalai Lama and his followers drew wrong conclusions after some paid several visits to the country, thinking they still had the trust and faith of many local Tibetans.

In the mid-1980s, the Dalai Lama and his followers tried to draw global attention to Tibet.

On September 21, 1987, the Dalai Lama made a speech to the human rights sub-committee of the US House of Representatives, raising a five-point proposal on the status of Tibet.

This proposal was strongly objected to by the Chinese people, including those in the Tibet Autonomous Region. But it was wrongly taken as a signal for a new round of separatist activities by those seeking separatism within the country.

Six days later, on September 27, Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, witnessed the start of riots aimed at realizing so-called Tibetan independence. The four riots and dozens of demonstrations in Lhasa in the following two years were reported by Western media and triggered international concern.

Against this backdrop, the Dalai clique became increasingly arrogant in its ambitions. On June 15, 1988, the Dalai Lama delivered a speech in Strasbourg, France, adding new points to his five-point proposal.

As China achieved miraculous economic prosperity as well as political stability in the early 1990s, the Tibet Autonomous Region and the Tibetan habitats in other provinces saw robust progress in nearly all aspects of social life. The Tibetan people's lives improved remarkably.

During this period, the Dalai Lama began to lose support. Internal disputes within his clique were also growing.

By 1994, the Dalai Lama had to stress that he had dropped the pursuit of "Tibetan independence" but started to seek "a greater autonomy of Tibet under the framework of the Chinese Constitution". The "greater autonomy" of Tibet has been peddled by the Dalai Lama in recent years as his major point.

However, people never fail to notice that this concept is only a disguise for his real target of "Tibetan independence" and a strategic concession to gain more advantages on the issue.

Despite the evolution of his slogans as well as the key points, the Dalai Lama has never changed his framework of "negotiation" with the central government.

He has insisted that Tibet had been an independent state in both historic and cultural terms instead of part of China; that the central government should withdraw all military forces and facilities out of Tibet; that Tibet should keep diplomatic ties with other states and international organizations; that the Tibetan settlement areas in the provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan, Qinghai and Gansu should be integrated into Tibet, that the Dalai Lama should be in charge of this "greater Tibet", and that the non-Tibetan ethnic groups should be cleared out of this area.

If the central government of a state cannot have military forces on its territory or allow its local government to have diplomatic ties with other nations, it actually has no sovereignty over this territory. Therefore, the so-called "greater autonomy" demanded by the Dalai Lama is an attempt to change the legal position of Tibet and deny the sovereignty of the central government over the region.

The "greater autonomy" of Tibet is actually a slogan of the Dalai Lama and his followers to win the sympathy of the global community and the support of the Tibetan people as well as to put pressure on the central government. At the same time, the clique has never stopped its separatist activities.

As a country with 55 ethnic minorities, China has adopted a policy of regional autonomy for ethnic minorities in areas where these minorities live in compact communities.

Under the unified leadership of the central government, organs of self-government have been established for the exercise of autonomy. The implementation of this policy is critical to enhancing the relationship of equality, unity and mutual assistance among different ethnic groups, to upholding national unification, and to accelerating the development of places where regional autonomy is practiced.

The Tibet Autonomous Region was established on September 1, 1965. Since then, Tibetans, under the leadership of the central government, have actively participated in the administration of national and local affairs, fully exercising the right of autonomy guaranteed by the Constitution and other laws.

The Tibetans have real autonomy, which they enjoy much more than what "greater autonomy" could offer.

With the founding of the autonomous region, the Tibetans have exercised their right to vote and stand for election as provided by the Constitution. They participate in the election of deputies to national and local people's congresses.

Tibetan and other ethnic minority deputies account for more than 80 percent of the total number of deputies to the people's congresses at regional and prefecture levels. Tibetan and other ethnic minority people account for 87.5 percent of the chairperson and vice-chairperson positions of the Standing Committee of the People's Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region and 69.23 percent of the total members of the committee. They make up 57 percent of the governor and vice-governor positions of the region, 89.4 percent of the members of the local People's Political Consultative Conference and 90.42 percent of the standing committee.

Over the past 40 years, the Tibet Autonomous Region has exercised full economic autonomy. The region has drawn up 10 five-year plans for local economic and social development, arranging development projects on its own.

Farmers and herders in Tibet are exempt from all fees and taxes. In addition, farmers and herders enjoy free medical care and their children receive free food and board in schools.

In August 2005, a special document was issued by the central government to accelerate the economic and social development in Tibet by granting a series of favourable policies to the autonomous region.

As a result, the Tibet Autonomous Region saw a GDP of 29.03 billion Yuan ($3.72 billion) in 2006, up 13.2 percent from the previous year.

The Tibetan language has been widely learned and used. People of Tibetan ethnicity account for more than 95 percent of the total population in the region. The Tibetan language and the national common language are used simultaneously at all important meetings. All documents of the governments at all levels in the region appear in both languages.

The central government respects and protects the freedom of religious belief of Tibetans and other ethnic minorities. They are free to follow their traditional lifestyle and carry out social activities. They are also free to pray and make pilgrimages.

The central government and the regional government have earmarked a large sum of money to renovate monasteries and palaces of religious value as well as historic value.

Tibet has also seen huge progress in education in the last decades. The region brought 95.9 percent of the children of school age into classrooms by 2006. It has four universities and colleges.

The status of women in Tibet in political, economic and cultural spheres as well as in families has been fundamentally improved.

The Tibet Autonomous Region has also done significant work in protecting the environment. A number of projects have been carried out under the sponsorship of both the central government and local government.

Source: China Daily; By Yan Zheng, a Tibetan specialist based in Sichuan

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