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Celebration marks peaceful liberation

By Zhao Huanxin (China Daily)

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

LHASA - Lhagba was one of some 20,000 Tibetans sitting in front of the Potala Palace on Tuesday morning listening to Vice-President Xi Jinping's speech at a grand rally to mark the 60th anniversary of Tibet's peaceful liberation.

Celebration marks peaceful liberation

Celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of Tibet's peaceful liberation are held at the Potala Square in Lhasa on Tuesday. [Zou Hong / China Daily]

Unlike other people in the audience, the teacher from Tibet Vocational Institute of Technology was simultaneously doing something else: he and his colleagues were directing 1,452 students raising pieces of cardboard that combined to create slogans matching Xi's eloquence.

When Xi said: "Speeding up development holds the key to resolving all issues in Tibet", the students displayed in huge words "Tibet will have a better tomorrow!" in Mandarin and Tibetan.

"It is a good patriotic education for them to participate in today's gala," Lhagba said, adding that the students, accounting for one-fourth of the institute's total, had trained one month for the occasion.

Lhagba, director of the institute's students' affairs division, said 98 percent of students at the school came from Tibetan farming and herding families. Tuition is free for those majoring in agriculture, forestry and electricity, and they each receive 1,500 yuan ($235) a year in stipends from the government.

Lhagba said he was also a farmer's son, and his ancestors were serfs.

"People like me have a special feeling toward events marking Tibet's peaceful liberation," he said. "Thanks to the liberation, the fate of my family has been totally changed."

Lhagba said his mother gave birth to six children, and four of them were college graduates, while none of his parents and grandparents attended school.

Lhagba Wandi, 40, on Tuesday dressed himself in attire that he said was reserved only for Tibetan New Year's Day.

The farmer from Dulong, a county about 10 km east of Lhasa, said his family received two pressure cookers the other days. A delegation of the central government led by Xi had brought practical gifts including cookers and solar power TV sets to Tibet as it arrived in the regional capital to attend a series of celebrations marking Tibet's peaceful liberation 60 years ago.

The farmer said he enjoyed his life as each year he spent two months doing farming chores, and the rest of the year in a cement factory, earning 1,500 yuan a month.

Puntsog, 34, an official of the Dulong county government, said 500 people from Dulong attended Tuesday's gathering.

"Not all Tibetan dwellers have the opportunity to attend today's gathering, so it's an honor for them to be representatives here and witness the event," he said.

Gelsang, a resident from Nemo, a suburban county of Lhasa, was among the few who had the luck to have also attended the 50th anniversary 10 years ago.

"You saw bicycles and vehicles everywhere in Nemo in 2001, now many farmers have farming vehicles subsidized by the government or own their cars," the 48-year-old said.

Tibetans on Tuesday proudly exhibited their achievements and progress in economic and social development, with a parade of floats and folk dance performances that lasted nearly an hour at the Potala Square.

The procession was headed by a group of university students holding a huge national emblem, expressing their loyalty to the motherland.

It was followed by the presentation of a gigantic national flag, and floats from different parts of Tibet to showcase their specialties and large development projects.

The festive mood lasted until late into the night, when thousands of people gathered at the Potala Square to watch a fireworks show. Xi and his delegation attended the show and danced with local residents at the square.

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