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16:58 Mar 29 2009

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English>>China>>China & World
Indian newspaper applauds China's democratic reform achievements in Tibet
12:07, March 29, 2009  

The democratic reform in China's Tibet Autonomous Region abolished the theocratic system, did away with feudal serfdom and slavery, emancipated about a million serfs, and laid the basis for the modern development of the region as a part of the Chinese socialist system, an Indian newspaper said Saturday.

The reform in 1959 brought forward China's project of freeing a million serfs, said a leading editorial published by The Hindu, one of India's major English newspapers, which echoed the celebration of Tibet's first Serfs Emancipation Day, an official annual holiday, and denounced the Dalai Lama's past persecution of the Tibetan people.

"History shows that resistance to anti-feudal reform was deeply entrenched in his ancient regime -- fusing the causes of separatism and the preservation of feudal serfdom and theocracy," said the editorial written by the newspaper's chief editor Narasimhan Ram.

Massive historical documents and material, and the accounts of several western adventurers, scholars, and journalists who visited old Tibet, testify to the historicity of the existence, right up to 1959, of a system of medieval feudal serfdom that, in its rapacity, cruelty, theocratic absolutism, and long-lastingness, had no parallel in modern times, the editorial said.

The Tibetans are a wonderful people and old Tibet had great civilizational achievements to its credit, but even by the middle of the 20th century, the (poor) socio-economic condition of more than 90 percent of its population of just over a million beggared belief, it said.

Land as well as most means of production were in the hands of the three categories of estate-owners -- government officials, nobles, and upper class lamas -- who comprised only 5 percent of the population, while the mass of the population, serfs and slaves, lived in extreme poverty, lacked education, health care, personal freedom and any kind of entitlement, and were obliged to provide unpaid labour services or ulag, an expansive Tibetan term for extortionate taxes, corvee, and parasitical land rent, the editorial said.

Monasteries, which owned huge estates worked by serfs and practiced usury, had a rigid class system. Monks and nuns constituted about 10 percent of the Tibetan population and most of them were no better off than serfs and menial laborers. Agriculture was largely of the slash-and-burn kind, modern industry was virtually non-existent, and transportation was chiefly on animal or human back. Life in general was brutish and short, with diseases rampant, the population stagnant, and life expectancy at birth hovering around 36, it said.

At the top of this profoundly inequitable and oppressive systems at the institution and person of the Dalai Lama, Ram concluded in the editorial.

These are incontestable historical facts that must form a basis for any reality check on Tibet, it added.

One question that may arise is: why has it taken so long for China to institute a grand commemoration of such a major social transformation as the emancipation of a million serfs? The answer is fairly clear and it has to do with China's continuing surprise and concern over the outside world's failure to comprehend Tibetan realities, past and present, Ram continued.

Citing a Chinese official document, Ram said the establishment of the annual celebration is conducive to "telling the right from wrong in history," helping "the world better understand a real Tibet in progress" and revealing "the laws governing the social development of Tibet."

Source: Xinhua

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http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90776/90883/6624787.pdf