Full text of speech by Wang Yang at meeting celebrating 70th anniversary of peaceful liberation of Tibet

Updated: 2021-08-20 Xinhua

Speech by Wang Yang

at the Meeting Celebrating the 70th Anniversary of

the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet

Lhasa, 19 August 2021

Comrades and Friends,

Amid celebrations of the centenary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) across the country, we are marking the 70th anniversary of the peaceful liberation of Tibet. Last month, Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee, President of China and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, came to Tibet on an inspection tour. He hailed Tibet’s development achievements in the past seven decades since its peaceful liberation, and brought warm regards and best wishes to officials and people of all ethnic groups in the region. Today, entrusted by the CPC Central Committee and General Secretary Xi Jinping, the central government delegation has come to Tibet, bringing to you warm greetings of people across the country. We are here to jointly celebrate with people of all ethnic groups in Tibet the 70th anniversary of the peaceful liberation of Tibet. At the outset, on behalf of the CPC Central Committee, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, the State Council, the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and the Central Military Commission, I wish to extend warm congratulations to the Tibet Autonomous Region, extend greetings to officials and people of all ethnic groups in Tibet, and express heartfelt thanks to people from various sectors who have long cared about and supported Tibet in pursuing development and progress.

The peaceful liberation of Tibet in 1951 was a major victory in the cause of liberation of the Chinese people and China’s reunification. It marked a historic transition with epoch-making significance for Tibet. Since then, Tibet has embarked on a path from darkness to brightness, from backwardness to progress, from poverty to prosperity, from autocracy to democracy, and from closeness to openness. A thriving socialist new Tibet is standing tall and firm at the rooftop of the world.

The past seven decades have seen a historic transition in Tibet's social system. In the old Tibet, the reactionary and barbarous feudal serfdom was practiced under which people were divided into three classes, with each class further divided into three ranks. Lower-class serfs had no human rights or dignity to speak of. We drove out all the imperialist forces and carried out sweeping democratic reform, separated religion from political powers and ended theocracy, and we established the people’s democratic government. Several million serfs rose and held their future in their own hands. They cheered: “The sun of the aristocrats has set, and our sun has risen.” With the establishment of socialist system and regional ethnic autonomy, the rights of people of all ethnic groups in Tibet to equal participation in the governance of state affairs and to administration of affairs of the autonomous region are fully ensured. At present, Tibet has over 35,000 deputies of people's congresses and over 8,000 CPPCC members at various levels, 90 percent of who are ethnic minorities.

The past seven decades have seen historic achievements in Tibet's economic development. In the old days, agriculture and livestock in Tibet were at the mercy of nature; industry was non-existent; and a round trip between Xining and Lhasa would take more than six months. In 1951, the GDP in Tibet was merely RMB130 million yuan, while the figure soared past RMB190 billion yuan in 2020. Today, Tibet’s annual grain output has been above one million tons for years. Its agricultural and livestock sectors with distinctive features of the plateau, green industry, clean energy and modern services are flourishing. During the 13th Five-Year Plan period, Tibet hosted close to 160 million tourist visits. The autonomous region now has well-connected infrastructure, with Fuxing bullet trains speeding past snow-capped mountains. Every administrative village is linked by roads, and 140 flights connect Tibet with the rest of the country and the world. All villages in Tibet are now covered by 4G network. The Ngari-Central Tibet power interconnection project, crossing mountains at an average altitude of 4,500 meters, ended Tibet’s lack of electricity once and for all. Across this ancient and snowy plateau of unique appeal, everywhere there is a scene of brimming vitality. 

The past seven decades have seen historic changes in the lives of the people in Tibet. In the old Tibet, over 90 percent of Tibetans struggled for subsistence, and up to 95 percent were illiterate. Today, hunger and poverty is a thing of the past for people of all ethnic groups in Tibet, and per capita living space in Tibet is close to 40 square meters. The 15-year public-funded education is conducted across the region, ending the long-standing issue of school drop-out. Endemics such as hydatid disease, Kashin-Beck disease and congenital heart disease have been eradicated and prevented for the first time in history. The average life expectancy has risen from 35.5 years in 1951 to 71.1 years. People’s lives are steadily improving. From the Jinsha River to the Shiquan River, from the Yarlung Zangbo Valley to the northern Tibetan Plateau, people everywhere in Tibet sing in praise of their happy life.

The past seven decades have seen historic progress in ethnic unity in Tibet. We have followed a sound policy with distinctive Chinese features of addressing ethnic issues. We have ended ethnic discrimination and estrangement prevalent in the old society, crushed separatist and sabotage activities committed by the Dalai group and hostile external forces, and promoted common development and prosperity of all ethnic groups through joint efforts. The central government has invested huge manpower, resources and funding to preserve and develop Tibet’s fine traditional culture. The Tibetan language is used extensively. Precious classics such as Epic of King Gesar were saved and collated. Close to 800 projects including thangka, Tibetan opera and Tibetan medicine have been placed on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Religious beliefs of all ethnic groups are fully respected. More than 1,700 temples in Tibet have full access to water, electricity, the Internet, fire fighting and other facilities. All of the 46,000 monks and nuns are covered by the government’s social security scheme. The Potala Palace, the Jokhang Temple and other temples and sites have been renovated and are under protection. Today’s Tibet enjoys freedom of religious belief, social harmony and ethnic amity. People of all ethnic groups are “as close to one another as tea and salt” which go together in Tibetan butter tea, and all members of the great family of the Chinese nation live in contentment and happiness.

Since the 18th CPC National Congress, Tibet has entered a new era, an era in which greater development and bigger changes have been made and more benefits delivered to the people than in the past. The region ranks among the top three in China in terms of annual average growth rate, and it has topped the country in terms of growth of per capita disposable income of rural residents for many years, and the urbanization rate has increased by 13 percentage points. Tibet was once the only place in China which had contiguous poor areas at the provincial level. Its poverty was most severe, the cost of poverty eradication was the highest and the difficulty encountered was the greatest. However, thanks to unremitting efforts, 628,000 people from inhospitable mountainous and remote areas in Tibet have been lifted out of poverty, and 266,000 were relocated to new homes in valley townships and embarked on new lives. Together with the rest of the country, Tibet has, as envisaged, finished the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects.

We owe the great achievements and the miracle of epoch-making transformation made in Tibet over the past seven decades since its peaceful liberation to the firm leadership of the CPC Central Committee, the indomitable spirit of officials and people of all ethnic groups in Tibet, and the tremendous support given by people across the country. Over the years, people of all ethnic groups in Tibet, like the galsang flower that bloom in the snowy plateau, have struck roots in the region and dedicated themselves to its development. With unity and hard work, they have safeguarded our sacred land and built up their homeland. Tens of thousands of officials and professionals across the country have responded to the call of the CPC and come to assist in Tibet’s development, worked with heroic determination and left behind touching stories of their glorious accomplishments. What you have achieved with your dedication here in Tibet has become a part of our great motherland’s historic achievement, and your endeavors and contributions will forever be remembered by the People’s Republic. At this very moment, we cherish a profound memory of the martyrs and heroes who have contributed their youth and even given their lives for the revolution, development and reform of Tibet and for the defense and development of the borderland of our country. Their great contributions and noble character will go down in the annals of history.

Comrades and friends,

The world today is undergoing changes never seen in a century, and China has reached a crucial stage in its endeavor to realize the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. We have embarked on a new journey of fully building a modern socialist country, and Tibet has reached a new historical starting point in pursuing its economic and social development. We should unswervingly follow Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era as our guide, strengthen our consciousness of the need to maintain political integrity, think in big-picture terms, follow the leadership core and keep in alignment, enhance confidence in the path, theory, system and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and uphold General Secretary Xi Jinping’s core position in both the Party Central Committee and the Party as a whole as well as the authority and centralized, unified leadership of the Party Central Committee. We should gain a thorough understanding of the important speech made by General Secretary Xi Jinping at the seventh Central Working Conference on Tibet and the important instructions he made during his inspection tour in Tibet, fully implement the guidelines of the CPC for governing Tibet in the new era, fully implement the decisions of the CPC Central Committee, and make new advances in achieving durable stability and high-quality development in Tibet.

We should always follow the leadership of the CPC and march steadily on the path of building socialism with distinctive Chinese features. Without the CPC, there would not be New China and there would not be new Tibet. Only by following the CPC leadership and pursuing the path of socialism, can Tibet achieve development and prosperity. This conclusion has been borne out by Tibet's development over the past seven decades. We should gain an in-depth understanding of the important speech delivered by General Secretary Xi Jinping at the rally marking the centenary of the CPC. We should keep in mind the extraordinary 100-year journey of the CPC and keenly appreciate the fact that the CPC leadership is the choice of history and of the people; and we should never forget where our happy life today comes from and who are making unremitting efforts to deliver even better lives for Chinese people of all ethnic groups. We should draw inspiration from the history of the CPC, boost our confidence, and follow the CPC leadership with an even greater sense of purpose in thinking and action.

We should enhance harmony and stability in Tibet and ensure national security and stability in the border areas. Tibet now enjoys continued social stability: this is an achievement which has not come easily and must be all the more cherished. We should have a keen appreciation of the distinctive features of Tibet-related work at this stage, strengthen social governance and explore new ways of conducting it, and mobilize officials and the general public of all ethnic groups to forge an ironclad defense against separatist activities. We should see that religions in China are Chinese in orientation and guide Tibetan Buddhism in adapting itself to socialist society. And we should rally religious figures and believers around us in a joint effort to safeguard national security and social harmony. Tibet’s development over the past seven decades demonstrates that unity and stability is a blessing, whereas separatist activities and chaos can only lead to disaster. No one outside China has the right to point fingers at us when it comes to Tibetan affairs. Any attempt or maneuver designed to separate Tibet from China is doomed to fail.

We should foster a strong sense of the Chinese nation as one community and advance ethnic unity and progress. The Chinese nation is one big family; harmony in this big family of ours brings prosperity. Only when we foster a strong sense of community of the Chinese nation and when all ethnic groups work together in unison with the same purpose in mind, can we create a mighty force to achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. Efforts to raise public awareness of ethnic unity and progress should go hand in hand with efforts to raise awareness of core socialist values, of patriotism, of struggle against separatist activities, of contrast between old and new Tibet, and of the Marxist views of country, history, ethnicity, culture and religion. Such efforts will enable people of all ethnic groups to strengthen their faith in our great motherland, the Chinese nation, the Chinese culture, the CPC and socialism with Chinese characteristics, thus solidifying the cultural foundation for ethnic unity. A shared cultural identity underpins ethnic unity. The Chinese culture has always been a bond that fosters a sense of togetherness and belonging among people of all ethnic groups in Tibet. All-round efforts should continue to be made to teach standard spoken and written Chinese language. We should foster and share Chinese cultural symbols and images of the Chinese nation among all ethnic groups, and thus create a source of inspiration for the entire Chinese nation. We should protect and keep alive the fine traditional culture in Tibet and promote its creative evolution and development.

We should follow a people-centered development philosophy, and promote high-quality economic and social development. Development is the foundation for achieving common prosperity and long-term stability. All development endeavors in Tibet should promote ethnic unity and progress, improve people’s livelihood and win people’s support. All development endeavors in Tibet should help increase the sense of fulfillment, happiness and security of people from various ethnic groups. We should fully, faithfully and comprehensively implement the new development philosophy, see that the development of Tibet serves and becomes an integral part of the country’s new development paradigm, and explore a path of high-quality development that suits Tibet’s reality. We should build on the success of poverty alleviation, advance rural development in all aspects, and carry out initiatives to develop border areas and make lives better for border residents. We should address each and every issue that is important to people’s livelihood and see that the people of all ethnic groups enjoy more benefits, be happier and feel more secure. The CPC Central Committee’s input in and support for the development of Tibet will only increase, not decrease. With the attention given by the CPC Central Committee and support of the whole country, and with its own efforts, Tibet will surely achieve full modernization together with the whole country.

We should remain firm in the belief that just as lucid waters and green mountains are invaluable assets, so are the plateau of ice and snow, and turn Tibet into a pacesetter in ecological conservation. The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is known as the roof of the world and the water tower of Asia. Protecting the ecological system of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is the greatest contribution to the survival and development of the Chinese nation. We should act responsibly toward history, the people and the world, and give priority to protecting the ecological system and pursuing green development. We should launch major ecological conservation projects, and take a holistic approach to protect mountains, rivers, forests, farmlands, lakes, grasslands, deserts and glaciers. The CPC Central Committee supports Tibet in building a national demonstration region on ecological conservation, supports it in piloting a comprehensive ecological compensation program, and supports comprehensive scientific research on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. We are confident that we will continue to keep skies blue, waters clear and air clean in this snowy plateau.

Comrades and friends,

The majestic Himalaya Mountains have witnessed the sea change that has taken place in Tibet since its peaceful liberation, and the surging Yarlung Zangbo River has witnessed Tibet’s development and advances in the new era. Let us rally closely around the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, live by the great founding spirit of the CPC, and follow the example of the older generation engaged in Tibet’s development and those who constructed the Sichuan-Tibet Highway and the Qinghai-Tibet Highway. And let us dedicate ourselves to building a new, modern socialist Tibet that is united, prosperous, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful and achieve the Chinese dream of great national rejuvenation.

May our great motherland enjoy prosperity!

May people of all ethnic groups in Tibet enjoy happiness and well-being!

Tashi Delek!

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