China Voice: Tibet's development; a path of hope
2015/04/16

BEIJING, April 15 (Xinhua) -- Over six decades since the Communist Party of China (CPC) brought the plateau onto a path of hope, Tibet is in better shape than ever before.

Tibet has a 12-percent growth target for this year, backed by hefty government investment, in sharp contrast to the expectations of much of China's interior, with annualized growth for the whole country stuck at 7 percent in the first quarter.

Tibet is yet to present its own economic report card for the same period, but development in recent years shows that efforts to narrow the gap between the plateau and the rest of the country are paying off.

In the 60 years from 1952 to 2013, the central government provided financial assistance of up to 544.6 billion yuan (87.5 billion U.S. dollars) -- 95 percent of the total expenditure of local public finance in the period.

Tibet's gross regional product hit 92.5 billion yuan last year and the region has maintained double-digit growth since 1994. It is the Tibetan people who have benefited most over these decades.

In the 1950s, when slavery had long been cast aside in most parts of the globe, Tibet was still a society of feudal serfdom, which trampled on dignity, violated human rights and prevented social development.

On March 28, 1959, China's central government announced the dissolution of the archaic, aristocratic local government of Tibet, replacing it with a preparatory committee for establishing the Tibet Autonomous Region and about 1 million serfs and slaves were freed.

Native Tibetans today, most of whom are descendants of former slaves, make up the majority of government employees, working as officials, teachers, doctors or other professionals. Almost all these jobs were beyond the wildest imagination of their forefathers.

A sign of improved medical care and social welfare, Tibet's population rose to 3.12 million in 2013, tripling the early 1950s figure. Average life expectancy has doubled to 68.2 years.

Tibet has also taken the lead in China with 15 years of free education, from kindergarten through senior high school. In most parts of the country, children receive only nine years of free education.

Today, 99.6 percent of Tibet's children go to primary school, compared with less than a 2-percent in the 1950s when 95 percent of the population were illiterate.

A modern transport network has linked the remote plateau region with the rest of the world. Tibetans' freedom of faith is widely respected and protected by law. The coexistence of atheism, Tibetan Buddhism, Bon, Islam, and Christianity has made Tibet an exemplar of cultural and religious diversity.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of establishment of the Tibet Autonomous Region. The Tibetans today are no more a group of slaves groaning under the whips of their owners, not knowing where their next meal would come from. They are educated and free to choose their own fate.

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