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Tibet celebrates key anniversary

By Cui Jia (China Daily)

Updated: 2011-07-20 09:25:29

LHASA - Vice-President Xi Jinping called on Tuesday for the rapid development of all sectors of society in the Tibet autonomous region to improve people's livelihood.

Tibet celebrates key anniversary

Dancers in traditional costume perform during a ceremony at Potala Palace Square in Lhasa on Tuesday to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the peaceful liberation of Tibet. [Zou Hong / China Daily] 

"Speeding up development holds the key to resolving all issues in Tibet," Xi said during a speech at a ceremony to mark the 60th anniversary of the peaceful liberation of Tibet.

"Efforts must be made to promote leapfrog development and long-term peace and stability, bring about moderate prosperity in all areas by 2020 and deliver a new life of greater happiness for the people of all ethnic groups in Tibet."

More than 20,000 people rallied at the square in front of the Potala Palace, which was decorated with flowerbeds, balloons and banners.

Xi, heading a 59-member central government delegation to the ceremony, presented Tibet's top officials with a gold-plated plaque bearing an inscription by President Hu Jintao congratulating them on the anniversary.

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 May 23, 1951.

Tibet celebrates key anniversary

Vice-President Xi Jinping attends the ceremony. [Zou Hong / China Daily]

The vice-president said the economic and social development of Tibet should always aim at safeguarding and improving the well-being of its people.

"Our objective is to ensure that people of all ethnic groups in the autonomous region have access to education, employment, housing, healthcare and care in their old age," Xi said.

Du Yongbin, a researcher with the Beijing-based China Tibetology Research Center, said Tibet is facing many challenges.

"Politically, there are (separatist) forces undermining Tibet's security; culturally, there is the conflict between ongoing modernization and preserving traditions."

He added that Tibet also has to deal with scarce resources and a fragile eco-system.

Du said Xi's call for quicker development is not just about economic development.

"Instead, it's comprehensive development in all aspects that improves people's lives and achieves long-term stability," the researcher said.

Xi said social stability provides the very basis for leapfrog development and a prosperous life for the people of all ethnic groups in Tibet.

"We should fight against separatist activities by the Dalai Lama clique, rely on cadres and people of all ethnic groups, seek long-term policies and take measures that address the root cause, and completely destroy any attempt to undermine stability in Tibet and national unity," he said.

Xi added that Tibet serves as an important security screen for the country. It is the home of a unique culture of the Chinese nation and a major international tourist destination.

Before the peaceful liberation, Tibet was a feudal society under theocratic rule. Under such a system, serf owners, who accounted for less than five percent of the population, possessed almost all the means of production, while the serfs had almost nothing.

"During my grandfather's time, even if the snow mountains turned into ghee, we had no right to have a spoonful. Even if the rivers turned into wine, we had no right to take a sip, but now we are the owners of this land," Lhagba, Party secretary of Lhasa's Bagarxol village, said during his speech at the ceremony. "We treasure our life now and nobody is allowed to sabotage it."

Another cause for celebration came when the State Council, the Cabinet, gave the Tibetan government the green light to carry out all 226 key projects proposed for the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) on July 6. Those projects mainly aim to improve the livelihood of the people, boost basic infrastructure and better preserve Tibet's natural resources.

Wang Huazhong and Xinhua contributed to this story.

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