China celebrates Tibet anniversary

By Chen Heying Source:Global Times Published: 2015-9-1 0:18:02

National integrity, rule of law emphasized

China is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Tibet Autonomous Region, as the country vows to maintain national integrity and ensure long-term peaceful governance in the region.

Teng Tingguo, deputy head of the press section at the regional publicity department, told the Global Times on Monday that the upcoming celebrations this week will include speeches delivered by top leaders and a gala show. Teng declined to give further details.

There have been a series of celebrations, including art exhibitions and the release of a documentary, since the beginning of April. A celebratory stamp set designed for the anniversary of Tibet and a musical featuring the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, the world's highest plateau railway, will also be released.

Tibet Autonomous Region was established on September 1, 1965. It was the last provincial-level region established within the People's Republic of China.

To further inspect the country's Tibet policy, the 6th Tibet Work Forum was held last week in Beijing, with Chinese President Xi Jinping stating that the country's Tibet policy should be centered on maintaining national integrity and fighting against separatism, ensuring long-term peaceful governance and sustainable growth in the region, and improving social cohesion.

The meeting was aimed at setting the basic tone of policy for the next five years, analysts said, adding that although the meeting inherited many previous stances, new touches were also made, such as "enforcing the rule of law in Tibet," "sustainable growth" and "improving social cohesion."

Emphasis on people

"Enhancing social cohesion and an emphasis on a more human-centric approach is being put forward amid increasing conflicts caused by the economy-centered development," Xiong Kunxin, an ethnic studies professor at the Minzu University of China, told the Global Times.

Xiong said that this people-oriented approach had long-been ignored during the economy-driven development of the past two decades.

From 1993 to 2014, Tibet's GDP leapt from 3.7 billion yuan ($580,160 million) to 92 billion yuan and the average income of farmers and herdsmen was 7,471 yuan, 10.6 times that of 1993, the Xinhua News Agency reported Wednesday.

Xi's predecessor Hu Jintao pointed out in the fifth meeting on the work of Tibet Autonomous Region in January 2010 that Tibet should stick to a path centering on economic construction and should safeguard leapfrog development.

Penpa Lhamo, deputy head of the contemporary studies institute of the Tibet Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that giving up the leapfrog development in the latest development plan would reduce the chance of possible conflicts, which may evolve into ethnic ones via manipulation of Western anti-China forces and the Dalai Lama clique.

"Although the conflicts provoked by economic growth are the same as those in the rest of China, they can be easily manipulated in Tibet," she noted.

The better China develops, the higher the possibility of political dissidents to make use of the conflicts, she said.

At the 6th forum, Xi stressed that the country should "firmly take the initiative" in the fight against separatism, vowing to crack down on all activities seeking to split the country and destroy social stability.

Penpa Lhamo said that the fight against separatism would continue since the Dalai Lama's "government-in-exile" has already begun to differentiate itself from a theocracy, portraying itself as a democratic government.

"They consider this to be another trump card to accuse the Chinese government after their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, dies," she said.

Self-dependent development

Another highlight of Xi's outline of Tibet development is the call to develop the region by local residents themselves, Penpa Lhamo noted.

Xi has asked for more efforts to promote self-dependent economic growth and comprehensive reforms in Tibet and Tibetan-inhabited areas in four other provinces, in a bid to encourage participation of locals from different ethnic minority groups.

Over the past six decades since Tibet's peaceful liberation, Tibet has witnessed rapid development, thanks to special financial, tax and investment policies, and a helping hand from other interior regions - thousands of Party members volunteer to travel to Tibet every year to help locals build modern infrastructure, open new factories and receive better education.

Between 1952 and 2013, 95 percent of the investment local governments in Tibet used to develop their economy came from the central government's fiscal transfer payment, reaching 544.6 billion yuan, according to statistics from the regional government.

"The central government has put more emphasis on self-reliable development than ever in the meetings on the work of Tibet Autonomous Region," Penpa Lhamo said.

She said that self-dependent development can boost the self-esteem of Tibetans who have become used to waiting and asking for aid from the central government and other provinces.

"Poor self-esteem will lead to a weak sense of belonging and hamper ethnic unity as a result," Penpa Lhamo said.

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