LHASA, July 19 (Xinhua) -- A grand ceremony was held Tuesday in Lhasa to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the peaceful liberation of Tibet. More than 20,000 people rallied at the Potala Palace Square as Vice President Xi Jinping delivered a speech, pledging to lead Tibet into a prosperous future under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC).
Xi, heading a 59-member central government delegation to attend the anniversary celebration, presented to Tibet's top officials a gold-plated plaque bearing an inscription by President Hu Jintao congratulating the region on the 60th anniversary of its peaceful liberation.
Xi and other officials sat on a gold-roofed Tibetan-style platform set up beneath the imposing Potala Palace, facing the rally. After Chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region Padma Choling announced the opening of the ceremony at 10 a.m., soldiers raised the national flag in the square with China's national anthem playing in the background. The crowd rose, looked to the flag and sang to the tune in unison.
The Potala Palace was decorated with flowerbeds, balloons, and banners with both Chinese and Tibetan slogans. At the back of the square, people sitting on a temporary spectatorium used cardboards to display two rotating slogans - "Thank you, CPC central committe" and "Tibet's future will be better." Nearby, banks and government buildings displayed the slogan "without the CPC, there could not be a new socialist Tibet" on LED screens.
Tibet's peaceful liberation was marked by the signing of the Agreement on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet, also known as the 17-Article Agreement, between the central government and the former local government of Tibet on March 23, 1951.
Xi told the crowd that the liberation was "a turning point of epoch-making significance" in the history of Tibet. It crushed the attempt of external forces to separate Tibet from China, upheld national sovereignty and territorial integrity, safeguarded national unification and ethnic unity and opened the path for one million serfs in Tibet to stand up and become masters of their own fates and ushered in a bright prospect of prosperity and progress for Tibet.
Admist applause, the vice president continued. He said fundamental changes have taken place in the ancient, miraculous land of Tibet over the past 60 years.
"The extraordinary developments over the past 60 years have pointed to an irrefutable truth that without the Communist Party of China, there would have been no new China and no new Tibet," Xi said. "As long as we stick to the CPC's leadership, the socialist system, the system of regional ethnic autonomy and a development path with Chinese and local Tibetan features, Tibet will enjoy greater prosperity and progress and embrace a brighter future."
Xi urged government officials and people of all ethnic groups in Tibet to promote "leapfrog development" and long-term peace and stability, bring about moderate prosperity in all respects by 2020 and deliver a new life of greater happiness for people of all ethnic groups in Tibet.