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The Historical Inevitability of Tibet's Modernization

July 17, 2008

Part III. of "Tibet's March Toward Modernization"
Information Office of the State Council
of the Peoples Republic of China
November 2001

Beijing  -- Fifty years is a short period in the long process of
human history. However, in the past 50 years Tibet, an ancient and
mysterious land, has undergone tremendous changes far beyond
comparison with those in any other era. Tibet has bidden farewell to
the poor, backward, isolated and stagnant feudal serf society, and is
forging ahead toward a modern people's democratic society featuring
constant progress, civilization and opening-up, and its modernization
drive has won world-renowned achievements. First, the situation in
which a small number of feudal serf-owners monopolized Tibet's
political power and material and cultural resources has been
thoroughly changed, and all the people in Tibet have become masters
administering Tibetan society, and the creators and beneficiaries of
the society's material and cultural wealth. As a result, the people's
status and quality have greatly improved. Second, the isolated,
stagnant and declining old Tibetan society has been thoroughly
smashed; economic development has advanced by leaps and bounds;
people's material and cultural life has greatly improved; the
modernization drive has developed in an unprecedented way; and an
overall-progress situation has appeared in the constant reform and
opening-up. Third, Tibet has thoroughly abolished ethnic oppression
and discrimination and cleaned up the filth and mire left over from
the old Tibetan society; Tibet's ethnic characteristics and the fine
aspects of its traditional culture have won full respect and
protection under the regional ethnic autonomy system; with the
progress of the modernization drive, they have been imbued with the
current contents that reflect the people's new life and the new
requirements of social progress, and have thus been carried forward
in a process of scientific inheritance.

The development in the past 50 years has demonstrated the historical
inevitability of Tibet's march toward modernization, and revealed the
objective law of Tibet's modernization.

** Tibet's march toward modernization conforms to the world
historical trend and the law of development of human society, and
embodies the internal demands of Tibet's social development and the
fundamental interests and wishes of the Tibetan people.

Realizing modernization has been a common issue facing all countries
and regions in the world in modern times, as well as a natural
historical course when human society is changing from an
underdeveloped state to a developed one, from ignorance and
backwardness to civilization and progress, from relatively
independent development in a closed society to high-speed development
in an all-round way in opening-up, cooperation and competition. At
the very beginning, modernization appeared following the rise and
expansion of the capitalist countries in the West. For a considerable
length of time, the big powers in the West monopolized the fruits of
modernization and used them in the invasion and colonial rule in the
Third World countries. With the rise of the decolonization movement
in the 20th century, getting rid of poverty and backwardness and
realizing modernization became the road that the Third World
countries had to take to realize their complete independence and the
invigoration of their nations. Historical development has proved that
the modernization tide is enormous and powerful, that those who go
with it will prosper while those who go against it will perish.
Tibet's productive forces, mode of production and social and
political systems in the modern era were in the extremely backward
state of the Middle Ages, and came near the verge of collapse after
Tibet was subject to imperialist invasion and control. Ending
imperialist invasion and control, reforming the backward social and
political systems and mode of production and realizing modernization
have historically become the only way out and the most urgent
question for social progress in Tibet. Since the founding of the
People's Republic of China in 1949, Tibet, through the peaceful
liberation, Democratic Reform, socialist construction, and reform and
opening-up, has broken away from the clutches of imperialism, entered
the modern society of people's democracy from the feudal serf society
that lagged far behind the times, realized high-speed economic
development and all-round social development, and headed toward
modernization step by step. All these comply with the world tide of
modernization and the law of development of human society, and embody
the demand for social progress in Tibet and the fundamental
aspiration of the Tibetan people.

** Tibet's modernization is an inseparable part of China's
modernization drive, and the inevitable demand from the people of all
ethnic groups in China to realize common prosperity and the Chinese
nation to realize great rejuvenation.

In the centuries-long course of historical development, our 56 ethnic
groups, including the Tibetan ethnic group, have jointly developed
China's territory, and formed the big family of the Chinese nation,
in which all the ethnic groups share weal and woe, and are
inseparable from each other. As an integral part of Chinese
territory, Tibet has always gone through thick and thin together with
the motherland for common development. Tibet's progress and
development are closely related to those of the motherland, and the
motherland's destiny directly affects Tibet's future. In modern
times, China was reduced to a semi-colonial and semi-feudal society;
Chinese territory, including Tibet, was subject to invasion and
devastation by the big powers of the West; and China was confronted
with the fate of being carved up and dismembered because of its weak
national strength and the corruption and incompetence of feudal
autocracy. Along with the victory of the national democratic
revolution in China and the founding of the People's Republic of
China, Tibet realized peaceful liberation, drove away the imperialist
forces, took the course of modernization, threw off the heavy
shackles of feudal serfdom through the Democratic Reform, and
smoothed the road to modernization. As Tibet is a relatively backward
area, its development has always been the concern of the Central
Government and the people of all ethnic groups in China. In the past
50 years, the state has paid special attention to the social and
economic development of Tibet. It has given a powerful impetus to
Tibet's modernization by granting it special preferential policies in
terms of finance, tax revenue, banking and other aspects, offering
energetic support in capital, technology and human resources,
investing an accumulative total of close to 50 billion yuan, sending
a large amount of materials and dispatching a large number of cadres
and technical personnel to help Tibet. We may well say that Tibet's
progress and development in the past 50 years has been achieved under
the correct leadership of the three generations of leading
collectives of the central authorities, with Mao Zedong, Deng
Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin at the core in different periods. This has
been inseparable from the unification and development of the
motherland and the selfless support of the whole nation; it is also a
vivid embodiment of the new ethnic relations of equality, unity,
mutual help and common development among all ethnic groups in China.

History has proved that Tibet's modernization cannot be separated
from that of the motherland, and the motherland's modernization
cannot be realized without that of Tibet. Without Tibet's
modernization, the motherland's modernization would be incomplete and
incomprehensive. Without the independence and prosperity of the
motherland, Tibetan society would not have new life and development.
Only when Tibet's modernization drive is merged with the motherland's
modernization and wins the support and help of the people throughout
the country, can Tibet tightly grasp the historical opportunities,
realize speedy development, and achieve constant progress and
prosperity. The vigorous development of the motherland's
modernization is powerful backing for Tibet's modernization. The
correct leadership and sturdy support of the Central Government and
the selfless support of the people of all ethnic groups in China are
the powerful guarantee and necessary conditions for the speedy and
healthy development of Tibet's modernization drive.

** The modernization drive of Tibet is the common cause of the people
of all the ethnic groups there.

The focus must be put on man, so as to promote the all-round social
progress and sustainable development.

The course of Tibet's development over the past 50 years has been a
process of continuous human emancipation and advance, as well as the
all-round progress of society and the harmonious development of
modernization and the environment. The people of all ethnic groups in
Tibet have always been the mainstay and basic motive power behind the
region's modernization drive, and also the beneficiaries of the
results of its development. Tibet's peaceful liberation and the
Democratic Reform emancipated the people of all ethnic groups in
Tibet from imperialist invasion and the inhuman bonds of the feudal
serfdom, making them masters of the nation and the Tibetan society.
They showed enormous enthusiasm and exerted all their strength, and
became the principal force propelling Tibet's modernization. With the
sense of responsibility as the masters of their society, they took an
active part in the great cause of building a new Tibet and a new
life. They struggled in concert, advanced with a pioneering spirit,
laid the first stone for the construction with arduous efforts, and
upheld the principle that economic construction and social progress
should be undertaken simultaneously, and the economy and environment
developed harmoniously. In this way, they gave a mighty thrust to the
modernization process of Tibet. The achievements attained in the 50
years of Tibet's modernization drive have fully demonstrated the
success of the struggle of the people of all ethnic groups in Tibet
and embodied the enormous strength of the Tibetan people. Experience
has shown that the concerted struggle of the people of all ethnic
groups in Tibet is the dynamo propelling the region's modernization
drive. Only by maximizing the zeal, initiative and creativity of the
people in Tibet and channeling the concern of the Central Government
and the support of other parts of the country into Tibet's own
advantages for development can miracles be created in Tibet's
modernization drive. Moreover, only by proceeding from the
fundamental interests and needs of the Tibetan people and adhering to
the sustainable development strategy can Tibet's modernization drive
develop quickly and soundly.

** As Tibet's modernization drive is unfolding in the unique area of
Tibet, it must proceed from Tibet's actual conditions and take the
road with Tibet's local characteristics.

Located on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, Tibet is completely different
from other regions in geographic environment, natural conditions,
historical development, ethnic composition, religious beliefs,
cultural traditions, lifestyle and customs. The region's
modernization drive must proceed from the actual conditions of Tibet
and take into account Tibet's history and reality. Its primary aim
should be to spur the development of Tibet's productive forces and
social progress, as well as the development and welfare of the people
of Tibet. The adverse natural conditions, backward social and
economic basis and the complicated background of Tibet's historical
development in modern times dictate that Tibet must take
modernization as the key link and realize rapid development with
special support and help from the Central Government and the rest of
the country. In addition, to realize the sustainable, all-round and
harmonious development of society and the economy, Tibet must
correctly handle the relations between reform, development and
stability, utilize natural resources rationally and protect the
ecological environment.

For historical reasons, most of the Tibetans in the region are
religious believers and religious influences have permeated Tibetan
culture, art, social customs and daily life. How to correctly handle
the ethnic and religious problems is a long-standing issue of great
importance in Tibet's modernization drive. The 50-year development of
Tibet shows that accelerating modernization is where the basic
interests of the people in Tibet lie, and also the key to the
realization of ethnic equality and common development. It is an
important guarantee for the sound development of Tibet's
modernization drive to uphold the system of regional ethnic autonomy,
ensure in practice that the people of all ethnic groups in Tibet,
especially the Tibetan people, exercise the right of self-government
in administering local affairs according to law, and completely
respect their culture and traditions, customs and habits, spoken and
written language, and religious beliefs. Only by observing the
following principles can a modernization road with Tibetan local and
ethnic characteristics be opened up: Focusing on economic
construction; upholding the policies of reform and opening-up;
combining the protection of the freedom of religious belief with
separation of religion from politics; actively guiding religion to
gear to the needs of modernization and social progress; and
maintaining and promoting Tibet's ethnic characteristics while
energetically developing modern industries, science, education and
culture, and propelling the modernization of Tibet's traditional
industries and culture.

** The modernization drive of Tibet has been forging ahead
consistently during the protracted struggle against the Dalai Lama
clique and international hostile forces.

As the question of Tibet's modernization emerged against a
complicated historical background, it was inevitable that the
modernization in Tibet was connected with international struggles.
Over a long period of time, between the Dalai Lama clique and
international hostile forces on the one hand and the Chinese
Government and people on the other, there have been struggles on the
"Tibet issue," with the former trying to split Tibet from the rest of
China and halt its modernization, and the latter trying to maintain
the unity of the country and promote Tibet's modernization. In modern
times, a handful of the political and religious rulers in Tibet, in
order to safeguard the vested interests of the serf-owner class and
the crumbling feudal serfdom, tried by hook or by crook to hinder the
modernization of Tibetan society, and even went so far as to
collaborate with the imperialist aggressor forces to unleash the
"Tibet independence" campaign, in an attempt to split the country and
prevent the peaceful liberation of Tibet. After Tibet's peaceful
liberation, the Dalai Lama clique, regardless of the patient
forbearance of the Central Government and the strong demand of the
Tibetan people, spared no efforts to try to check the Democratic
Reform and modernization drive, and, with the support of
international hostile forces, stirred up an armed rebellion for the
purpose of splitting the motherland. When the rebellion had failed
and the Dalai Lama clique fled abroad, it even did not scruple to
collude with the international anti-China forces to constantly whip
up world opinion, wantonly conduct activities aimed at splitting
China, slander Tibet's achievements in economic construction and
social progress, and by every means hinder and sabotage the
modernization of Tibetan society.

The Dalai Lama clique and international hostile forces slandered the
peaceful liberation of Tibet and the expulsion of the imperialist
forces from Tibet as "China's occupation of Tibet"; denigrated the
Central Government's efforts to propel Tibet's modernization as the
"elimination of Tibet's ethnic characteristics"; misrepresented the
rapid growth of Tibet's economy as "destruction of Tibet's
environment"; vilified the concern and support of the Central
Government and the whole nation for the modernization of Tibet as
"plundering Tibet's resources," "intensifying control over Tibet" and
"Han-Chinese assimilation of Tibet"; calumniated the abolition of
theocracy and the secular privileges of the clergy and monasteries as
"extinguishing religion"; distorted the promotion of traditional
Tibetan culture in the new era and the unprecedented development of
modern science, education and culture in Tibet as "extirpation of
Tibetan culture," and so on and so forth. In a word, whatever was
beneficial to Tibet's modernization and social progress and the
happiness of the Tibetan people, they willfully misrepresented and
left no stone unturned to oppose. This fully reveals the reactionary
nature of the Dalai Lama clique, which represents the backward
relations of production of feudal serfdom, the retrogressive
religious culture of the theocratic system, and the interests of the
dying privileged few of the feudal serf-owner class. Besides, it
fully exposes the sinister mentality of some hostile foreign forces
in their vain attempt to utilize the "Tibet issue" to sabotage the
stability of China, split China's territory, and prevent China from
developing and prospering.

Facts speak louder than words, and people have a sense of natural
justice. It is universally acknowledged that Tibet is a part of
China's territory, and the progress made by the Tibetan community is
there for all to see. China has conformed to the trend of the times
and followed the wishes of the people in its efforts to promote the
modernization of Tibet and combat the Dalai Lama clique's separatist
activities. It is only right and proper to do so. The history of 50
years since the peaceful liberation of Tibet shows that the trend of
the times cannot be checked, and the tide of history is irreversible.
Tibet's modernization and social progress are part of the general
trend and popular feeling. Any lie will certainly be revealed by the
objective facts of Tibet's development; any perverse acts to turn the
clock back, prevent Tibet's modernization drive and separate Tibet
from China are doomed to ignominious failure.

Human society has ushered in a new century, and peace and development
are the two major themes in the world today. China has embarked upon
the new development stage of building, in a comprehensive way, a
society in which people enjoy a fairly comfortable life, and of
accelerating the reform and opening-up and modernization -- a stage
in which the strategy of large-scale development of the western
region, as a part of the third-step development strategy of China's
modernization drive, is being carried out in an all-round way. With a
view to national development and the actual conditions in Tibet, the
Fourth Forum on Work in Tibet convened by the Central Government set
the strategic objectives for promoting Tibet's modernization in the
new century, from simply speeding it up to ensuring a leap forward.
The forum also determined to further intensify support for Tibet's
development. In this regard, during the Tenth Five-Year Plan period
(2001-2005) the Central Government and various parts of the country
are to invest 32.2 billion yuan to assist Tibet in constructing 187
projects, and the Central Government is to subsidize Tibet to the
tune of 37.9 billion yuan. In addition, other special preferential
policies and measures are to be formulated. All this has created new
and favorable conditions and rare opportunities for Tibet's
modernization drive. It can be confidently asserted that, on the
solid foundation laid over the last 50 years and with energetic
support and help from the Central Government and people all over the
country, Tibet will ultimately realize vigorous development in the
process of its modernization drive through arduous efforts, and
witness a still more brilliant and splendid future.

Notes 1. Melvyn C. Goldstein, A History of Modern Tibet (1913-1951):
The Demise of the Lamaist State, University of California Press,
Berkeley, Los Angeles, London, 1989-1991, pp. 37 and 2.2. Dongka
Lobsang Chilai, On the System of Theocracy in Tibet, Ethnic
Minorities Publishing House, 1985. Translated by Chen Qingying,
pp.72-73.3. Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme, A Great Turn in the Development of
Tibetan History, published in the first issue of the China Tibetology
quarterly, 1991, Beijing.
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