Fifty Years of Democratic Reform in Tibet

Information Office of the State Council of the People's Republic of China

March 2, 2009, Beijing

Contents

Foreword

I. Old Tibet -- A Society of Feudal Serfdom under Theocracy

II. Momentous Democratic Reform in Tibet

III. Tremendous Historic Changes over the Past Half-century

Conclusion

 

Foreword

Tibet has been an inseparable part of China since ancient times. The peaceful liberation of Tibet, the driving out of the imperialist aggressor forces from Tibet, the democratic reform and abolition of theocratic feudal serfdom in Tibet were significant parts of the Chinese people's national democratic revolution against imperialism and feudalism in modern history, as well as major historical tasks facing the Chinese government after the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

Prior to 1959, Tibet had long been a society of feudal serfdom under theocratic rule, a society which was even darker than medieval society in Europe. The 14th Dalai Lama, as a leader of the Gelug Sect of Tibetan Buddhism and also head of the Tibetan local government, monopolized both political and religious power, and was the chief representative of the feudal serf owners, who, accounting for less than five percent of the total population of Tibet, possessed the overwhelming part of the means of production, and monopolized the material and cultural resources of Tibet. The serfs and slaves, making up over 95 percent of the total population, suffered destitution, cruel oppression and exploitation, and possessed no means of production or personal freedom whatsoever, not to mention other basic human rights. The long centuries of theocratic rule and feudal serfdom stifled the vitality of Tibetan society, and brought about its decline and decay.

In 1951, the Agreement of the Central People's Government and the Local Government of Tibet on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet (hereinafter the "17-Article Agreement") was signed. The Agreement enabled Tibet to repel the imperialist forces and realize peaceful liberation, and provided basic conditions for Tibet to join the other parts of the country in the drive for common progress and development.

The "17-Article Agreement" acknowledged the necessity of reforming the social system of Tibet, and stressed that "the local government of Tibet should carry out reform voluntarily." However, in consideration of the special circumstances of Tibet, the Central People's Government adopted a circumspect attitude toward the reform. With great patience, tolerance and sincerity, it made efforts to persuade and waited for the local upper ruling strata of Tibet to carry out reform voluntarily. Instigated and supported by imperialist forces, however, some people in the upper ruling strata, despite the ever-growing demand of the people for democratic reform, were totally opposed to reform and proclaimed their determination never to carry it out. In an attempt to perpetuate feudal serfdom under theocracy, these people publicly abandoned the "17-Article Agreement" and brazenly staged an all-out armed rebellion on March 10, 1959. In order to safeguard the unity of the nation and the basic interests of the Tibetan people, the Central People's Government and the Tibetan people took decisive measures to quell the rebellion. Meanwhile, a vigorous democratic reform were carried out on a massive scale in Tibet to overthrow Tibet's feudal serfdom system under theocracy and liberate about one million serfs and slaves, ushering in a new era with the people becoming their own masters. The democratic reform was the most extensive, deepest and greatest social reform in the history of Tibet, and signified an epoch-making event in Tibet's history of social development and the progress of its human rights, as well as a significant advance in the history of human civilization and the world's human rights development.

Over the past half century, thanks to the care of the Central People's Government and aid from across the nation, the liberated people of all ethnic groups in Tibet have, in the capacity of masters of the nation, enthusiastically participated in the grand course of constructing a new society and creating their new lives, and worked miracles that had never happened in the Tibetan history. The social system of Tibet has developed by leaps and bounds; its modernization has advanced rapidly; Tibetan society has undergone earth-shaking historic changes; and remarkable progress has been made in the cause of human rights, which has attracted worldwide attention.

The year 2009 marks the 50th anniversary of the democratic reform in Tibet. It is conducive to telling the right from wrong in history and helps the world better understand a real Tibet in progress for us to review the overwhelming democratic reform and the profound historical changes that have taken place in Tibet over the past 50 years, to shed light on the laws governing the social development of Tibet, and expose through facts the various lies and rumors spread by the 14th Dalai Lama and his hard-core supporters over the so-called "Tibet issue," as well as the true colors of the 14th Dalai Lama himself.

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