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UPDATED: March 30, 2009
Foreign media report Serfs Emancipation Day

Some foreign media on Saturday reported activities marking Tibet's first Serfs Emancipation Day, and some gave coverage on the great changes that have taken place since the Democratic Reform in the autonomous region 50 years ago.

The legislature of China's Tibet Autonomous Region designated March 28 as the annual Serfs Emancipation Day to mark the emancipation of about 1 million serfs in Tibet 50 years ago.

Some media said the serfs' emancipation has brought about great changes in Tibetans' life.

In a story, the Associate Press quoted 69-year-old Tsondre, who was born into a serf's family in Lhasa, as saying that "Nowadays we have roads, we have televisions and telephones, children go to school, and we have savings in the banks, which is all made possible by the Communist Party."

It also said that "Chinese rule has brought economic development, higher living standards and infrastructure to the remote Himalayan plateau where people traditionally eked out a living by farming and herding."

The website of the British paper The Times said in a story on the emancipation day that "It is an unsubtle message that Beijing rule has brought a prosperity and freedom unknown previously."

"Mr Pelma, 61, lives in the village of Kesong, near Lhasa. It was the first place where Beijing introduced reforms eradicating serfdom. Living in a neat house with photos of Chairman Mao and Deng Xiaoping, there is little doubt that 30 years of economic reform have brought him a measure of prosperity."

"A neighbor remembered that dissolution of the serf system meant that he could have his first taste of rich yak butter tea," it said.

The story noted that "Historians agree that most Tibetans lived in some form of servitude" in old Tibet. It also quoted Melvyn Goldstein, a U.S. expert on Tibet, as saying that "(old) Tibet was characterized by a form of institutionalized inequality that can be called pervasive serfdom."

The Hindu, one of India's major English newspapers, said in an editorial that "History shows that resistance to anti-feudal reform was deeply entrenched in his (the Dalai Lama) ancient regime -- fusing the causes of separatism and the preservation of feudal serfdom and theocracy."

Massive historical documents and material, and the accounts of several western adventurers, scholars, and journalists who visited old Tibet, testify to the historicity of the existence, right up to 1959, of a system of medieval feudal serfdom that, in its rapacity, cruelty, theocratic absolutism, and long-lastingness, had no parallel in modern times, said the editorial written by the newspaper's chief editor Narasimhan Ram.

Ram said the establishment of the annual celebration is conducive to "telling the right from wrong in history," helping "the world better understand a real Tibet in progress" and revealing "the laws governing the social development of Tibet."

Ming Pao of Hong Kong and The Hong Kong Daily News said China held high-key celebrations of the first Serfs Emancipation Day, adding President Hu Jintao and other top Chinese leaders visited an exhibition in Beijing marking the 50th Anniversary of Democratic Reform in Tibet.

When visiting the exhibition, Hu stressed that, only by staying in the big family of the motherland under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, can the economy and society of Tibet develop by leaps and bounds, and the people of Tibet be the owner of the country together with other Chinese ethnic groups, the newspapers said.

The newspapers also quoted Tibet's Communist Party chief Zhang Qingli as saying that any conspiracy attempting to separate the region from China is doomed to fail, and China's national flag, the five-star red flag, will fly high in Tibet forever.

(Xinhua News Agency March 30, 2009)

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