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Special> Tibet in 50 Years> Summary
UPDATED: March 5, 2009
Tibet in Best Period of Development 50 Years After Democratic Reform

Tibet Autonomous Region is in its best period of development after 50 years of economic construction and social progress under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, according to a white paper released Monday by the Information Office of the State Council, or China's Cabinet.

The white paper titled "Fifty Years of Democratic Reform in Tibet " used facts and figures to prove "tremendous historic changes" that have taken place in Tibet as a result of the Democratic Reform.

The lengthy document listed achievements in various sectors, including Tibetan people's democratic rights in administrating regional affairs, improved living conditions, development in infrastructure such as roads, electricity and telecommunications.

Huge progress was also made in the protection of traditional Tibetan culture and heritage, the promotion of freedom in religious belief, education and health care, the white paper said.

Under the Chinese laws, the people of Tibet can directly elect deputies to grassroots-level people's congress, China's legislative body, who in turn elect deputies to provincial and national people's congresses.

"Through the people's congresses at various levels, the people of Tibet exercise their rights ... to participate in the administration of state and local affairs," it said.

This has enabled former serfs and slaves to "become master of their own destiny," it said.

In 2007, 96.4 percent of Tibet's voting residents participated the process to elect some 34,000 deputies to the grassroots-level people's congresses. More than 94 percent of the elected deputies were Tibetans or other ethnic minorities, it said.

In order to assist economic development, the central government has made tremendous investments in Tibet in the past 50years. Tibet has seen its GDP soar from 174 million yuan in 1959 to 39.591 billion yuan (5.78 billion U.S. dollars) in 2008.

Since 1994 the local GDP has grown at an annual rate of 12.8 percent on average, higher than the national average for the same period, said the white paper.

In 2008, nearly all counties in Tibet became accessible with highways. About 2.1 million residents, or 73 percent of Tibet's population, now have access to electrical power.

A modern industrial system, which did not exist before 1959, has taken shape, with mining, building materials, folk handicrafts and Tibetan medicine as pillar industries -- and power, farming and animal product processing and foodstuffs as supplemental industries.

The number of subscribers to fixed-line telephones and cell phones in Tibet has reached 1.562 million, which means 55 phones are available for every 100 people.

"Thanks to the improvement of medical services, the average life expectancy in Tibet has increased from 35.5 years in 1959 to 67 years at present," said the white paper.

It said the priority has been given to the use of Tibetan language, which is widely used in school teaching, government work and judicial proceedings, mass communication, and computer software development.

On the protection of cultural relics and heritage, the document said the Chinese government has invested massively on the collection of folk tales and opera, and on repeated renovation of monasteries and palaces.

"In Tibet, religious activities are rich in content and diverse in form, with religious festivals celebrated frequently," it said.

Since the early 1980s, more than 40 religious festivals have been successively resumed.

"Today, there are more than 1,700 religious venues in Tibet, with more than 46,000 resident monks and nuns, which can fully meet the needs of religious believers in Tibet," it said.

By 2008, all 73 counties in Tibet had implemented six-year compulsory education among school-age children, which helped to basically wipe out illiteracy in Tibet.

Tibet now is the first place in China to enjoy free compulsory education in both urban and rural areas, the white paper said.

(Xinhua News Agency March 2, 2009)

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