Padma Choling, chairman of the Tibet autonomous regional government, delivers a televised speech on Sunday, March 27, 2010, ahead of the third Serfs Emancipation Day. [Photo: Chinanews.com]
It was not easy for Tibet to have come this far in its development and any attempts that jeopardize Tibet's hard-gained stability and progress are doomed to failure, Padma Choling, chairman of the Tibet autonomous regional government, said Sunday.
China will mark the third Serfs Emancipation Day on Monday. On the same day 52 years ago, one million serfs, accounting for 95 percent of then Tibet's population, were freed and began to be treated as human beings, instead of as "animals who can speak," a term used to describe the population under serfdom.
On March 28, 1959, China's central government announced it would dissolve the aristocratic local government of Tibet and replace it with a preparatory committee for establishing the Tibet Autonomous Region.
That meant the end of serfdom and the abolition of the hierarchal social system characterized by theocracy, with the Dalai Lama as the core of the leadership.
The move came after the central government foiled an armed rebellion staged by the Dalai Lama and his supporters, most of whom were slave owners attempting to maintain serfdom.
"All ethnic groups will commemorate that day forever," said Padma Choling in a televised speech, since the Tibetans were freed from the cruel and dark rule of feudal serfdom, which forever changed the human rights situation in Tibet.
Since the emancipation, Tibet has developed by leaps and bounds, said Padma Choling.
"The region's GDP reached 50.8 billion yuan (7.75 billion U.S. dollars) in 2010, with an annual growth rate of 12.4 percent. The per capita net income of both farmers and herdsmen hit 4,319 yuan, double that of 2005," he said.
Also, life expectancy in Tibet nearly doubled, from 35.5 years before the emancipation to the current 67 years, he said.
Tibet was one of the first regions to establish free 9-year compulsory education, covering both urban and rural areas, which slashed the illiteracy rate among young and middle-aged Tibetans, said the chairman.
He reiterated that any attempts to split Tibet from China or to restore the hierarchal social system characterized by theocracy are doomed to failure.
A signed article to be published in Monday's People's Daily also hailed the establishment of the Serfs Emancipation Day and the central government's efforts to support Tibet's development and to improve local people's well-being.
A total of 16 billion yuan from the central budget was earmarked for the investment in Tibet in 2010, up 46 percent year on year, boosting the infrastructure such as airports, highways and railways in the region, said the article.
In 2010, all Tibetans above the age of 60, or some 235,200 people, received basic pensions amounting to 76.3 million yuan, said the article.
"In the first year of the 12th Five-year Plan period, development and stability will be our two key tasks and we will strive to achieve leap-frog development and long-term stability to make concrete progress in building a well-off society," said Padma Choling.
"We are confident to overcome all kinds of difficulties and move forward in building a united, democratic, prosperous, civilized and harmonious Tibet," he said.