China celebrates 50th anniversary of Tibet's autonomy

Source:Xinhua Published: 2015-9-8 11:10:48

A grand ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region is held at the square of the Potala Palace in Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, Sept. 8, 2015. (Xinhua/Chen Yehua)

The square in front of the Potala Palace in Lhasa, capital of Tibet Autonomous Region, hosted a ceremony on Tuesday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the region's founding.

Tens of thousands of people gathered in front of the imposing landmark, waving national flags and cheering like they were ushering in a new year.

Top Chinese political advisor Yu Zhengsheng attended the celebration, heading a 65-member delegation from the central government.

It presented Tibetan authorities with a plaque inscribed with President Xi Jinping's words: "Enhancing ethnic unity, building a beautiful Tibet."

Yu, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, in his keynote speech, warned against Tibetan separatism.

He said the sabotage attempts by the 14th Dalai Lama group and international hostile forces had been "foiled by people of all ethnic groups."

The top political advisor vowed a tougher crackdown on separatist activities and urged local authorities to implement rule of law, fighting separatism and managing religious affairs according to law.

Yu, who is a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, also called for tighter ethnic solidarity.

Tibet Autonomous Region was founded on Sept. 1, 1965, after the establishment of the regional People's Congress, the local legislature, meant that the people of Tibet could elect deputies to the congress.

Before Yu's speech, deputy delegation head and Vice Premier Liu Yandong read out a congratulatory message sent by the CPC Central Committee that said "only by sticking to the CPC's leadership and the ethnic autonomy system can Tibetans be their own masters and enjoy sustainable economic development and long-term stability."

In the past 50 years, Tibetan regional GDP has grown 68-fold and local financial income 564-fold, according to Yu.

He promised that the central government will continue to give special support to the region's economic development and narrow the gap between its level of development and that of other regions. The government plans to create more jobs and increase Tibetan people's income, and give them access to better education, medical care, housing and healthcare.

He also stressed environmental protection and improved army-people relations.

After Yu's speech, more than 6,000 civilians, army and government staff joined a parade. The army, police and paramilitary troops marched through the square armed and in battle dress, while civilian formations walked wearing Tibetan attire, singing, dancing and releasing colorful balloons.

Lhapa, a musician from Xigaze, said he had been practicing dance movements all night.

"I took a lot of pictures today, and I plan to hang them at home. They will be the pride of my family," he said.

"It's like New Year today! Everyone is dressed in traditional costume on the street," said Lhasa resident Pasang Wangdu. "I wore my Tibetan costume today to show my respect for the anniversary."

There have been road closures and traffic controls in place for the past four days, but citizens and tourists have mostly been able to move about freely.

Many foreigners gathered on streets near the square to watch the ceremomy.

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