Theocracy was the most prominent characteristic of old Tibet
Reporter: The Dalai clique and a very few people abroad have depicted old Tibet as a harmonious and tranquil "Shangri-La." The white paper on Tibet, "Fifty Years of Democratic Reform in Tibet," however, revealed from seven perspectives an impoverished, backwards, closed and cruel panorama of social life in old Tibet. What is your opinion about the information that was cited in the white paper?
Zhang Yun: What did old Tibet actually look like? The Dalai Clique has a set of explanations that completely pushes historical facts aside.
In fact, prior to democratic reform in 1959, Tibet was under the rule of a feudal serfdom theocracy. The serf-owner class consisted of three kinds of important lords; high-ranking government officials, feudal nobles and upper-class monks in the monastery. They imposed extremely cruel political oppression and economic exploitation on a great number of serfs and slaves.
There was almost no modern industry, commerce, technology, or modern education and culture in old Tibet. A large number of serfs and slaves were miserable with hunger and cold and had a hard time making a living. Such facts tell us of the real Tibet, which is a remarkable characteristic of the white paper.
Reporter: The Dalai Clique has usually hidden behind religion. The facts revealed by the white paper show that the theocratic system was not softhearted, but rather acted as a type of oppressive force.
Zhang: Yes, the most prominent characteristic of old Tibet was the theocracy. The upper-classes of religion were the main political rulers, one of the largest serf owners, and rulers of spirituality, thought and beliefs as well. The Dalai Lama was the chief representative of the old serfdom theocratic system. This combination of both secular and religious control and regulation was cruel and heartless. On one side, rulers with secular administrative power were able to oppress a great deal of people in terms of material things, the human body and political life. On the other hand, they made use of spirituality to engage in cheating, oppressing and threatening commoners by means of rewarding or punishing them in the next life.Old Tibet was "darker" than medieval Europe
Reporter: Owing to the Dalai Clique's lies and advocacy, people who do not know the truth have an illusion of old Tibet: that people in old Tibet also enjoyed human rights.
Zhang: This is nothing but a lie. In old Tibet, serf owners could randomly strip serfs of their possessions. Being the owners of serfs, they can even dispose of the serfs and their children at will. Serfs and slaves, who made up over 95 percent of the population of old Tibet, had no personal freedom. The children of serfs were registered and documented as soon as they were born. They had to serve as serfs for their whole lives. Where can one find human rights in old Tibet? There were only feudal serf owners' privileges.
In modern society, human rights are safeguarded by a legal system. We can see the situation of human rights in Tibet from the 13-Article Code and 16-Article Code that had been applied in old Tibet for hundreds of years. I believe anyone who has read the white paper can make a fair and clear judgment. For ethnic groups, human rights first refer to a right to exist and develop. In old Tibet, however, numerous serfs and slaves did not enjoy any social and political rights, worse still, their basic living conditions were not guaranteed at all. Their lives were dependent on serf owners and lords and they did not even have the minimum-required personal freedoms, let alone human rights. They began enjoying democracy, freedom and human rights safeguarded by the constitution and law only after the launch of the democratic reform in 1959.
Reporter: Was the feudal serfdom of old Tibet the same as Europe's serfdom during the Middle Ages?
Zhang: Serfdom is a social system that appeared in human history following slavery. Typical serfdom originated in Europe during the Middle Ages and was established on the ruins of Roman slavery. In medieval Europe, the combination of theocracy and secular powers offered guarantees to feudal serfdom. The church monopolized and controlled religion and thinking. For instance, in medieval Europe, commoners had no right to read and interpret the Bible. The right was strictly controlled in the hands of the clergy. If a clergyman violated the church's conceptions, ideologies and norms, he was deemed a heathen and denounced. Compared with European countries and the US, the feudal serfdom under theocracy in old Tibet was much darker and more brutal.Democratic reform fits with and represents fundamental interests of Tibetans
Reporter: From 1959 to 1961, within only a couple of years, democratic reform had been basically implemented throughout Tibet. Why was it carried out so smoothly?
Tenzin Lhunzub: The most basic reason lies in the justice of this reform, which fitted with and represented the fundamental interests of the Tibetans. As the waves of history continue to roll forward, moves against the tide are bound to fail. As the history of mankind entered the 1950s, it became apparent that a feudal serfdom system under theocratic rule could no longer fit the development trend of history. Such a system was the root cause of Tibet's poverty and backwardness. For Tibet to walk the modernized road of civilization and progress, it had to first abolish such a system.
Reporter: What is the significance of releasing the Chinese government's white paper right now?
Lian: On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of democratic reform in Tibet, the issuance of this white paper has great significance. The white paper is a document that reflects the official stance and views of the Chinese government. The white paper on Tibet is a summary narration of the causes, processes and results of the reform that happened 50 years ago, which signifies the Chinese government's declaration to the world that it has always been committed to consistent and correct policies. The Dalai Clique distorted the democratic reform, saying that it was a campaign to "suppress the Tibetans." They even entertained the fantasy of negating democratic reform. Therefore, the white paper clearly states our standpoint and scores a hard and direct attack against those people. It has great significance in consolidating the understanding of democratic reform in Tibet by people of all ethnic groups in China, especially the Tibetan people, because only when understanding is consolidated will our thinking and actions remain unwavering and we can effectively safeguard the social stability and development of Tibet.
It has major significance for the anti-secession campaign. The central idea of "centrism" that the Dalai Clique holds involves the so-called "greater Tibet area" and a "high degree of autonomy." Democratic reform in Tibet has made it possible for the fundamental and basic political systems including the people's congress system, multi-party cooperation and political consultation system under the leadership of the Communist Party of China and the system of regional autonomy for ethnic minorities to be deeply rooted in Tibet. The white paper reiterates that these systems are unshakable and that the assertions of the Dalai Clique run counter to these systems, and will only end in straying further on the path of splitting the nation and bringing upon their own destruction.