China vows rule of law in Tibet

By Chen Heying Source:Global Times Published: 2015-9-9 0:43:01

Giant parade held to celebrate 50th anniversary

Tibetan dancers, dressed in ethnic attire and carrying drums on their back, walk past the Potala Palace in a parade on Tuesday in Lhasa, capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the region's establishment. Photo: Xinhua

A top Chinese political advisor called for strict adherence to the law in managing religious affairs in Tibet, in a speech marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of the autonomous region on Tuesday.

"Religious affairs should be managed according to the law and problems should be addressed through legal means to maintain order in the practice of Tibetan Buddhism," Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, told a rally of senior officials and thousands of Tibetan people gathered at a celebration in front of the Potala Palace.

Experts said law-based governance has been stressed more heavily than ever before in the region, which was described as the foundation to the longer-term stability of Tibet.

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

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

Thousands of people gathered in front of the landmark, waving national flags and cheering.

More than 6,000 civilians, as well as army and government staff joined the parade.

The army, police and paramilitary troops marched through the square armed and in battle dress, while civilian formations walked wearing traditional Tibetan attire, singing, dancing and releasing colorful balloons.

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

Yu, also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, headed a 65-member delegation from the central government to attend the commemoration.

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

Law-based governance

"Law-based governance is fundamental to the long-term stability of Tibet," said Yu.

He requested the regional government to administer Tibet by law and to safeguard locals' lawful rights and interests.

He also called for more publicity to raise awareness of the law.

"Unlike past anniversary statements that emphasized public awareness of law, law-based governance was put before public awareness in Yu's statement, which indicates the demand [for rule of law] for the government has been prioritized," Tanor, an expert at the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

At the 40th anniversary of the founding of the autonomous region in 2005, then top political advisor Jia Qinglin called on local residents to fully exercise their rights to autonomy.

Law-based governance in Tibet was also highlighted in a speech by Xi last month.

"This governance-focused approach will combat separatists by better clarifying the definition of separatism in regional law, as well as by protecting locals' rights by differentiating legal appeals from secessionist ones in disguise," said Wang Chunhuan, head of the Marxism-Leninism research institute of the Tibetan Academy of Social Sciences.

"Tibet has achieved sustained stability after people of all ethnic groups steadfastly fought separatism, foiling the sabotage attempts of the 14th Dalai Lama clique and hostile international forces," Yu said.

China will continue to crack down on all kinds of separatist activities, the top political advisor said.

Bridge economic gap

Among the four requirements for Tibet put forward in Yu's speech, "to maintain national unity and ethnic solidarity" came first. He called ethnic solidarity a "lifeline."

Tanor said Yu's statement did not follow the pattern of past statements where the central government attempted to seek a balance between stability and development, indicating the central government has attached more importance to social cohesion than economic growth.

Yu urged the regional government to improve locals' livelihoods, bridging the economic gap among different areas in the region, given the special circumstances in Tibet.

"Provided the economic growth can improve local residents' standards of living and enhance ethnic solidarity as a result, the regional government will fulfill the goal set by the central government," Tanor said.

Xinhua contributed to this story

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