60 years of democratic reform in Tibet (updated)

The Chinese State Council has released a white paper celebrating 60 years of democratic reform in Tibet. You may find the full text in English here.

The facts speak for themselves: from 1959, Tibet (along with a number of other minority nationality areas) has been liberated from an archaic form of serfdom. Since then, the basic human right of socio-economic wellbeing has been fostered, the forces of production have been liberated (so much so that the Tibet Autonomous Region now has one of the highest growth rates in China), the common people of Tibet have taken control of their own future, the ‘third pole’ of Tibet has developed significant environmental protection policies, and Tibetan culture and religion have thrived. You can read the details for yourself.

Also, a full section of the Global Times has a series of articles on improvements in Tibet and the decline of the ‘separate’ group in India. Indeed, of the 15,000 or so in Dharamsala, 100 a year leave to seek their fortunes elsewhere. Many long to return to Tibet itself (as also the diapora community in Nepal). While life in Tibet improves year by year, the 14th Dalai Lama has less and less invitations to visit elsewhere. Watching how his reincarnation works out will be intriguing. You can be sure that the people of Tibet will find the reinicarnation there, in line with China’s policy of managing the 300 or so reinicarnations of living Buddhas, while the current Dalai Lama keeps changing his mind. Sometimes, he says he will not be reincarnated, while at other times he says his reincarnation will appear in India (for purely religious reasons, of course). Will we find ourselves with a split incarnation, where one becomes two – as Mao suggested for Chinese Marxist dialectics?

Back to the white paper, from which I would like to quote the following:

Before he was forced to flee Tibet after a failed counter-revolution in 1959 (sponsored by the CIA), the 14th Dalai Lama had the following:

Before democratic reform, the family of the 14th Dalai Lama possessed 27 manors, 30 pastures and over 6,000 serfs, and annually wrung out of them more than 462,000 kg of highland barley, 35,000 kg of butter, 2 million liang of Tibetan silver, 300 head of cattle and sheep, and 175 rolls of pulu (woolen fabric made in Tibet).

After 1959, the following was a result of the liberation of the serfs:

The serfs, who had been exploited and enslaved for generations, finally won freedom. They took ownership of more than 186,666 ha of land and other means of production. When their slave indentures and so-called IOU were burned in fire, they sang and danced to celebrate their liberation. In early 1960, about 200,000 farm households in Tibet acquired land certificates. Benefiting from policies such as the harvest of a farmland belonging to the one who sowed, lower rents for land, reduction in interest on loans, and the cancellation of old debts, the peasants gained more than 500 million kg of grain in total, over 750 kg per person.

Tsering Drolkar, a 68-year-old peasant from Khesum Shika of Nedong County said, “We had been providing corvée labor our whole lives. We never owned a single piece of land, what we worried about was how to find food for survival. Now with the land given to us by the people’s government, we will no longer go hungry.”

Perhaps the best is a new song that the liberated serfs began to sing:

The sunshine of the Dalai Lama touches only the nobles, while the sunshine of Chairman Mao showers on us poor people. The noble’s sun is setting and our sun is rising.

 

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Is China becoming a world leader on human rights?

They are certainly busy in the people’s republic. As the United States undergoes a UN investigation for extreme poverty, with the investigator citing profound human rights violations in terms of private wealth and public squalor, and as that wayward country refuses to ratify international human rights agreements (Australia, I should add, does not have a bill of rights), China moves on with a major ‘white paper’ on human rights. The full text may be found here, but this image provides a handy overview:

From the fuller document, I particularly like section V on CPC leadership and direction concerning human rights, as well as due attention to international concerns – in light of ‘building a community of shared future for humanity’ – in light of Xi Jinping Thought.

But you have to love this one, concerning the enhancement of social mechanism:

Guaranteeing people’s right to self-governance at the community level. China has made constant effort to improve self-governance at the community level, strengthen community consultation in urban and rural areas, and complete the mechanism to help urban and rural residents express their demands, coordinate interests and protect rights and interests. By 2016 about 85 percent of villages had set up villagers’ meetings or meeting of villagers’ representatives. Eighty-nine percent of communities had established congresses of residents. Sixty-four percent of communities had established consultative councils, and consultative forms such as “villager discussion”, “community consultation”, “property owner consultation”, and “villager hearing on decision-making” have steadily taken shape in China. By 2016, 98 percent of rural villages nationwide had formulated villagers’ codes of conduct or villagers’ self-governance regulations, while similar residents’ codes of conduct or residents’ self-governance regulations had been formulated in urban communities. These play an extensive role in social governance.