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Tibet: 50th Anniversary of Peaceful Liberation, 50 Years of Progress (05/31/01)


The signing of the "17-Article Agreement" on the peaceful liberation of Tibet in Beijing 50 years ago turned a new page in the history of Tibet, according to a Xinhua report from LHASA, capital of China's Tibet Autonomous Region.


Legqog, Chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Regional Government, said that thanks to the earth-shaking progress made in the past 50 years, Tibetans have walked out of the old, dark, backward and closed life and entered into a new, bright, modern, prosperous and open life.


The old Tibet, with its feudal serfdom, was a very dark decayed society.  The three major estate-holders (Kasha, nobles and upper-ranking Lamas), who accounted for less than 5% of the population in Tibet, owned serfs and slaves who made up more than 95% of the population.


Moreover, as productivity in old Tibet was very low and economy very stagnant, the broad masses of serfs did not have enough to eat and wear. The old Tibet far outstripped medieval Europe of cruelty and gloom. 


The peaceful liberation of Tibet in 1951 is considered a turning point in the history of Tibet. It reflected the common aspirations of Tibetan people and other ethnic peoples in China smashed the imperialist conspiracy to split China and laid a solid foundation for the unity of the Chinese nation.

The democratic reform that came 8 years later overthrew the dictatorship by the upper-class lamas and nobles who ruled Tibet with theocracy and feudal serfdom. The broad masses of former serfs became masters of their own destinies.


The Tibet Autonomous Region was established in 1965 when the first regional people's congress was convened.


So far, the Tibet Autonomous Region has made more than 150 local laws and regulations, which involve all aspects of life in Tibet.


In the National People's Congress, the highest legislature of China, 19 deputies are from Tibet. Tibetans and other ethnic peoples account for 90% of deputies in people's congresses at all levels in Tibet. They also make up 74.9% of cadres in the region.


The Central Government of China has invested or allocated more than 50 billion yuan to Tibet in the past 50 years.  By 2000, Tibet's gross domestic product had reached 11.74 billion yuan, a 30-fold increase over that of 1951.


About 95% of farmers and herdsmen in Tibet have adequate food and clothing and are headed towards greater prosperity.


In old Tibet, there were no modern industries, but today; Tibet's industrial output value has risen to 1.83 billion yuan, up 11 times from that of 1959.


There was only one small hydropower station that generated electricity for the privileged few in Tibet before the peaceful liberation. Now Tibet is blessed with 401 power stations, which are capable of generating 660 million kwh annually.


Fifty years ago, there were no highways in Tibet. The car given to the 14th Dalai Lama by Britain could only run on the two-km earth road from the Potala Palace to Norbu Lingka, known as Dalai Lama's summer palace. Now, Tibet has built a highway network centered on Lhasa. The total length of it is about 25,300 km. Highways will extend to all counties in Tibet in 5 years, while the construction of the Golmud-Lhasa railway, the highest one in the world, will start in July this year.


Mobile phones, Internet, wireless pagers and postal services are common means of communication among ordinary Tibetans at present day. Tibet has begun a new era wherein satellites and fibre-optic cables form an efficient network of communication.


Tibet has witnessed great progress as well in education, culture and other social undertakings in the past 50 years. Among the school-age children in Tibet, 85% of them attend school, while the illiteracy rate among young people has dropped from 97% in old Tibet to 39% today. Press and publication developed quickly. Traditional culture is well protected. Medical care and public health network has been established.  The average life span of Tibetans has risen from 36 years in 1950 to today's 67.






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