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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Qiangba Puncog's statement at press conference

April 11, 2008

China Daily, China
2008-04-10

The following is the full text of the opening remarks by Qiangba Puncog,
chairman of the government of the Tibet Autonomous Region, at a press

conference organized by the State Council Information Office in Beijing
April 9, 2008.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Good morning.

I have briefed journalists here on March 17 of the basic information
concerning the March 14 riot in Lhasa. Today, I will give some more
information

about Tibet's status-quo together with Sitar, Vice Minister of the
United Front Work Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central

Committee.

After the March 14 riot, the government of Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR)
and Lhasa Municipal government have taken effective measures aiming

to restore social order of the city as soon as possible. The governments
have helped hospitalize over 380 wounded civilians, offered special

compensation to 18 innocent civilians killed during the unrest, provided
relief fund for the poor, and repaired power, communication and public

facilities damaged during the unrest. We have also decided to exempt
shops burnt or looted during the unrest from certain taxes and fees in the

following two years, and have provided them with discount loans and
other favorable policies to help them reopen soon. For the time being,
social

order of the Lhasa city has returned to normal. Prices have remained
stable with abundant market supply, schools have resumed classes, most
shops

have reopened, and scenic sites including the Potala Palace and city
museums are now accessible to tourists.

The facts have proved that the March 14 riot is premeditated, organized
and masterminded by the Dalai clique, and is a vital part of the "Tibetan

People's Uprising Movement" organized by the clique and the "Tibetan
Youth Congress". Only a small number of monks started the riot, and the

people engaged in the beating, smashing, looting and burning on March 14
account for merely a small portion of the Tibet population. These

lawbreakers cannot represent Tibet or the Tibetan people, who are
strongly against the March 14 riot. The Tibetan people have voiced their
support

for the measures taken by the government of TAR to deal with the
situation, and have demanded the government to severely punish the

perpetrators according to law. It is ridiculous for the Dalai clique to
say that the unrest is participated and supported by the majority of
Tibetan

people.

So far, the police department of TAR has detained 953 people for their
involvement in the Lhasa riot, and local procuratorial authorities have
issued

warrants to arrest 403 of them. A total of 362 people involved in the
unrest have turned themselves in to the police, and up to 328 among them

have been released for minor offence. Among the 93 lawbreakers on the
wanted list, 13 have been nabbed and 9 others surrendered themselves to

police. The Tibet police have also seized a mass of guns and munitions.

I want to point out here that the Dalai Lama has been making "calls" and
"statements" since the March 14 riot with several intentions in mind. The

first is to distort facts. Dalai Lama had described the riot organized
and masterminded by overseas perpetrators as a "spontaneous" "peaceful

demonstration". He also attempted to deny the criminal and violent
nature of the riot, and tried to cover up its connection with the Dalai
clique. But

he cannot deny the facts. The second is to damage the nation's ethnic
unity, and to instigate ethnic conflicts. The third is to
internationalize the

"Tibet issue", to instigate western countries to keep pressure on China.
The fourth is to propagate his so-called "high level of autonomy" in
"greater

Tibet" to seek "Tibet independence". The Dalai Lama made those "calls"
and "statements" aiming to stir up more unrest because he cannot reconcile

himself to the fact that the March 14 riot has been calmed and that the
Lhasa city has returned to normal.

Ladies and gentlemen, with the help from the central government and the
people around China, people of various nationalities living in Tibet have

achieved huge progress in the region's economic development and people's
livelihood through their own hard work. The Tibetan people are the real

beneficiaries of the region's reform and development. Tibet has
registered an annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of over 12
percent

for seven consecutive years. In 2007, the region's GDP reached 34.2
billion yuan (about 4.88 billion U.S. dollars) with 12,000 yuan per
capita. In the

past five years, the central government has subsidized Tibet with 94.7
billion yuan and invested 60.1 billion in infrastructure construction. The

region's infrastructure has improved greatly as China opened the
Qinghai-Tibet Railway and finished construction all 117 major projects
listed in the

country's 10th five-year plan in Tibet. By the end of 2007, 612
townships had been connected by roads, accounting for 89.6 percent of all

townships in TAR. All townships had been linked with telephones, and
over 70 percent of townships have mailing accesses. The government also

took measures to solve the drinking water difficulties and have ensured
drinking water safety for 1.02 million farmers and herdsmen. So far, over

110,000 households with 590,000 farmers and herdsmen have moved into new
houses as the Tibetan regional government has launched a program in

2006 to build homes for 220,000 local farming and herding households by
2010. The average income of farmers and herdsmen reached 2,788 yuan

last year after maintaining a double-digit growth rate for five straight
years. Tibet is also witnessing rapid social development. Admission rate of

primary schools and junior middle schools for school age children
reached 98.2 percent and 90.7 percent respectively. The region also took
lead in

adopting the free nine year compulsory education both in rural and urban
areas. Students attending schools in rural areas do not have to pay for

both food and accommodation at school. Farmers and herdsmen in Tibet's
rural areas do not have to pay for their medical fares, and China has

raised their annual medical subsidy to 100 yuan each. Tibet is the first
of China's 31 provinces and autonomous regions to cover all its urban

residents with medical insurance system. Currently, the average life
expectancy of people in Tibet has increased to 67 from 35.5 in the
1950s, while

total population of Tibetans has risen to 2.5 million, accounting for 95
percent of total regional population, from 1.2 million in 1964.
Moreover, Tibet is

also the first of China's 31 provinces and autonomous regions to
establish a minimum living allowance system in tis rural areas. About
230,000 needy

farmers and herdsmen with annual income less than 800 yuan were covered
by the system. In the past 20 years, China has invested over 700 million

yuan in repairing temples, cultural relics and religious sites. The
central government had also made efforts in the collection and
publication of Tibetan

classics, including the Buddhism transcript the Tibetan Tripitaka, and
the heroic epic Biography of King Gesar, to preserve and develop Tibetan

traditional culture.

Tibet's development and progress is shared by the Tibet people, and is
witnessed by the whole world. The facts have proved that the government

has taken the right measures to accelerate economic development and to
maintain social order in Tibet. We will stick to those measure in the
future.

The Dalai Lama's claim that "the Han Chinese has taken all the good
things brought by Tibet's development" and the so-called "cultural
genocide" is

nothing but lies to damage the nation's ethnic unity, to stir up ethnic
conflict, and to distort facts in front of the world.

The Tibetan people have fully realized through the March 14 riot that
harmony brings happiness to the people while unrest stands for misfortune.

The Dalai clique's attempts to seek 'Tibet independence' through
disruption of Beijing Olympics are doomed to failure. No matter what
happened, our

determination to safeguard unification of the motherland, unity of
various nationalities and social stability will remain unchanged. We
firmly believe

that the Beijing Olympics will score a success.

Thank you.
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