China issued a white paper today commemorating the upcoming 50-year anniversary of the founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region going into exhaustive detail about how totally awesome everything is going there, so awesome in fact that they now say Tibet is in its “golden age.”
Tibet came under PRC rule in 1951, but it wasn’t until September 9th, 1965 that the Tibet Autonomous Region was formally established (with a few bumps in between).
The white paper titled “Successful Practice of Regional Ethnic Autonomy in Tibet” issued by the Information Office of the State Council explains how really terrible Tibet was before it came under PRC control and how since “Tibet has established the new socialist system and achieved historic leaps and bounds in its economic and social development.” Here’s the whole thing if you’d like some light Sunday reading.
Like any great piece of inspirational writing, the paper starts with great despair and tragedy that must be overcome in a section simply titled “Old Tibet: Dark and Backward.”
Even in the 1950s, Tibet was still a society ruled by feudal serfdom under theocracy. Having existed for several centuries, this wretched system stifled human rights and destroyed human qualities. It was thus the most backward mode of human society under which the people had no democratic, economic, social, or cultural rights, and their basic human rights were not protected. Old Tibet was a far cry from modern civilization.
Under feudal serfdom, serfs suffered cruel political oppression and had no personal freedom or fundamental rights.
Just a half-century later, the paper compares that pitiful situation to the here and now: “Although it has been only 50 years since the founding of Tibet Autonomous Region, great changes have taken place. Tibet is now in its golden age.”
To back up this claim, China delves into economic, social, spiritual and environmental improvements in Tibet by essentially dumping an archive full of sunny facts and figures, while saving space by not breaking them into paragraphs. Check this out:
Tibet’s GDP soared from 327 million yuan in 1965 to 92.08 billion yuan in 2014, a 281-fold increase. Since 1994, the local GDP has grown at an annual rate of 12.4 percent on average, registering double-digit growth for 20 consecutive years. Local fiscal revenues increased from 22.39 million yuan in 1965 to 16.475 billion yuan in 2014, an average annual increase of 14.46 percent, further enhancing Tibet’s self-development capabilities. The Region’s industrial added value skyrocketed from nine million yuan in 1965 to 6.616 billion yuan in 2014, a 735-fold increase, or an average annual growth of 14.4 percent, and the proportion of secondary industry’s added value in the local GDP rose from 6.7 percent in 1965 to 36.6 percent in 2014. Total retail sales of consumer goods increased from 89 million yuan in 1965 to 36.451 billion yuan in 2014, a 409-fold increase, or an average annual growth of 13.1 percent. The total volume of Tibet’s foreign trade rose from US$7 million in 1965 to US$2.255 billion in 2014, a 321-fold increase, or an average annual growth of 12.5 percent.
The paper then discusses social and religious changes trumpeting that Tibetan citizens enjoy full rights to freedom of religion and backing that up by listing how much money the state has allocated to rebuild monasteries. They also touch upon one of the formally atheist state’s favorite subjects—Reincarnation.
Temples are maintained and protected. Since the 1980s, the state has allocated funds, gold, and silver to maintain, renovate and protect temples. More than 1.4 billion yuan has been spent on restoring Tibetan cultural relics and refurbishing key monasteries. A total of 6.7 million yuan, 111 kg of gold, 2,000 kg of silver, and a large amount of jewelry has been used to renovate stupas and prayer halls from the Fifth Panchen Erdeni to the Ninth Panchen Erdeni. The state budget to build these for the 10th Panchen Erdeni was 66.2 million yuan and 650 kg of gold. In 1994, the state allocated another 20 million yuan to renovate Ganden Monastery. Since 1995, the central budget has given active support to the maintenance and protection of monasteries listed as state key cultural relics units, such as the Potala Palace, Norbulingka and Sakya Monastery.
The Living Buddha reincarnation is proceeding well. The Living Buddha reincarnation is a succession system unique to Tibetan Buddhism, and is respected by the state and governments at different levels of the autonomous region, the state having issued the Measures on the Management of the Reincarnation of Living Buddhas of Tibetan Buddhism. Through traditional religious rituals and historical conventions like drawing lots from a golden urn, in 1995 Tibet Autonomous Region sought out and identified the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Erdeni, and conferred and enthroned the 11th Panchen Erdeni, with the approval of the State Council. Tibet now has 358 Living Buddhas, more than 60 of whom have been confirmed through historical conventions and traditional religious rituals.
Finally, it’s not just the people of Tibet that live under a socialist utopia, wild animals have the PRC to thank as well:
Biological diversity and key ecological reserves are under effective protection. Currently, Tibet has 47 nature reserves, which cover 412,200 sq km, or 34.35 percent of the total land area of the entire Region. It has also set up 22 ecological reserves (two at state level), four state level scenic spots, nine national forest parks, 10 national wetland parks, and four geological parks (three at state level), wherein 141 wild animal species and 38 species of wild plants are under state protection, 196 indigenous animal species, and 855 indigenous plants and important ecological systems are under effective protection. The large and medium-sized wildlife populations of Tibet lead the country: numbers of Tibetan antelopes have grown from 50,000 to 70,000 in 1995 to more than 200,000, and black-necked cranes from 1,000 to 3,000 in 1995 to 7,000. Numbers of such rare and endangered species as wild yaks and Tibetan wild donkeys are also steadily growing.
Earlier this year, China released a white paper on the subject of Tibet, partly to laud the development path it has taken under CCP rule, but mostly to talk smack about the Dalai Lama:
We’ll see what the Dalai Lama has to say when he finds out that Tibetan civilization has reached its pinnacle without him there. We know Richard Gere is going to be disappointed.
Of course, there are no periods of Anarchy during a Golden Age, so that and the increased Production should work out well for the PRC.
[Images via People’s Daily]