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Seven questions for the Dalai Lama (5)
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16:38, April 01, 2009

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Fifth question: Are Tibetans free and happy or "suffering in hell on earth?"

On March 10, at the 50th anniversary gathering of the so-called "Tibetan people's peaceful uprising against Communist China's repression in Tibet," the Dalai Lama provocatively said that the Tibetan people have been "suffering in hell on earth" following the Democratic Reform in Tibet.

More than 50 years ago, it was this same Dalai Lama, the then Chairman of the Preparatory Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Region, who, at the inaugural meeting of the Preparatory Committee, affirmed that the "Seventeen Article Agreement" enabled the Tibetan people to “fully enjoy all the rights of ethnic equality, and begin to walk on a sunlit path of freedom and happiness."

Which is better, old Tibet or new Tibet? It is Tibet's one million emancipated serfs who have the final word on this question.

Recently, reporters visited the family of Tenzin Pasang, a villager of Gaba, a village in Najin Town in Lhasa. Tenzin Pasang, 68, was emotional when he told reporters about the development and changes of the past 50 years. "My parents and all my forefathers were serfs of Sera Monastery. My family had no property, no house, no land and no personal freedom, and at night, we had to share a room with livestock. If some people claim that old Tibet was good, it is nothing more than rumors," he said. After the Democratic Reform, earth-shaking changes have taken place for his family. Thanks to the low-income housing project implemented in the Tibetan Autonomous Region in 2006, Tenzin Pasang’s family has experienced dramatic changes to their housing conditions. He added that with 25,000 yuan in government subsidies, 25,000 yuan in bank loans and a certain amount of money he raised himself, his family was able to build a large house covering 500 square meters.

Born in a poor family in the old Tibet, Qiangba Puncog, Chairman of the People's Government of the Tibet Autonomous Region, has experienced changing times and has been eyewitness to many major historic events. He said that before 1959, Tibet under the Dalai Lama's rule was a society of feudal serfdom that was darker and more backward than medieval society in Europe. "A living hell" was the most appropriate word to describe society in the old Tibet. He noted that over the past 50 years since Democratic Reform, great changes have taken place in Tibet, its economy and society have made leaps and bounds in development, and anyone with an objective mind and who has visited Tibet knows all about it.

Over the last 50 years, the pace of Tibet's development and progress has proved the Dalai Lama's affirmation 50 years ago, namely that the "Seventeen-Article Agreement"has enabled the Tibetan people to "fully enjoy all the rights of ethnic equality, and begin to walk on a sunlit path of freedom and happiness" to be true.

—— The social system in Tibet has made a historic leap, and the Tibetan people have since entered a new era where they are the masters of Tibet. Most amazing in this far-reaching reform are the drastic changes that have been brought to the destinies of one million serfs. At present, among all NPC deputies, 20 are from the Tibet Autonomous Region. Among them, 12 are from the Tibetan ethnic group, one is from the Monba ethnicity and another is from the Lhoba ethnicity.

—— The economy has moved forward in leaps and bounds. From 1959 to 2008, Tibet's GDP increased from 174 million yuan to 39.591 billion yuan, an increase of 65 times when accounting for inflation, an annual growth rate of 8.9 percent. Since 1994, Tibet's annual GDP growth has reached 12.8 percent, higher than the average annual growth rate of the whole country. From 1959 to 2008, the GDP per capita of Tibet increased by 13,719 yuan, from 142 yuan to 13,861 yuan.

—— People's living standards have risen dramatically, and subsistence and development conditions have greatly improved. Before Democratic Reform, the farmers and herdsmen of Tibet did not have any means of production. They were in debt for almost their whole lives, which says
Fifth question: Are Tibetans free and happy or "suffering in hell on earth?"

nothing for their net incomes. In 2008, the per capita net income of the farmers and herdsmen of Tibet reached 3,176 yuan. Since 1978, per capita net income of the farmers and herdsmen of Tibet maintained an annual increase of 10.1 percent, and since 2003, has been increasing by 13.1 percent annually.

Ismael Sergio Ley Lopez, the former Mexican ambassador to China, has been to Tibet four times. Each time he was there, he had many thoughts and feelings. He believes that people who have never been to Tibet have no right to make criticisms about Tibet, because they do not understand the real Tibet and the efforts made by the Chinese government to construct and develop Tibet.

"I have many Tibetan friends who have become gradually rich by traveling between Tibet and Beijing doing craftwork business. As the economies of Tibet and interior China become more integrated, more happiness can be seen on the faces of Tibetan people. From their smiles, I can see the joy in their hearts."

By People's Daily Online



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