China's story of Xizang

After the Democratic Reforms in 1959, millions of serfs became the real masters of Xizang.

Flag of China (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Flag of China
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Xizang (the official name of “Tibet”) is a sacred and integral part of China. Since the 13th century, the successive central governments of China have been governing Xizang. The Zang people (the official name of “Tibetans”) have close contacts with the Han people and other ethnic groups in the country, all contributing to the founding of a unified multiethnic China.
Some people learned about Xizang from the fictional Shangri-La in the 1933 novel Lost Horizon. The truth is, before 1959, Xizang was never Shangri-La, but a theocratic feudal serfdom, which was even darker than the medieval age in Europe.
Lords, making up less than 5% of the population, owned almost all of the wealth.
The masses of serfs did not even possess fundamental rights.
After the Democratic Reforms in 1959, millions of serfs became the real masters of Xizang. With the full support from the central government of China, the Zang people have worked together with other ethnic groups to make a fundamental break from a life of isolation and backwardness and are now living a life of greater openness, prosperity and cultural advancement.
The people in Xizang began to exercise their rights to vote and to stand for election since 1959. In the current contingent of local officials in Xizang, 78% are from Zang and other ethnic minorities. Xizang is now one of the fastest growing provinces in China, with its regional GDP registering a two-digit growth for 24 consecutive years, amounting to $20 billion in 2017, while in 1959 the GDP stood at only $58 million. The population of Xizang rose to 3.37 million in 2017, tripling the figure of the early 1950s. Average life expectancy has also doubled to 68.2 years. Before 1959, the illiteracy rate in Xizang was as high as 95%, but now a comprehensive modern education system has been put in place.
The whole region now has 1,787 religious sites, one for an average 1,790 people.
The freedom of faith in Xizang is widely respected and protected by law.
Xizang is also famous for its spectacular natural environment. Over the past several decades, the central and local governments have struck a balance between social-economic development and environmental protection, taking vigorous efforts to promote ecological progress and build a beautiful Xizang. A total of 47 various natural reserves at different levels have been established, covering 412,200 sq. km.
China is a multi-ethnic country. Safeguarding national unity is the common aspiration of all Chinese people. However, there are a handful of people, such as Lobsang Sangay and other members of the Dalai clique, who always attempt to separate Xizang from China. The so-called “Tibetan government in exile,” which was formed outside China by a group of separatists after their foiled armed rebellion in 1959, is completely illegal. It could not represent the majority of the people in Xizang, and has never been recognized by any country in the world.
We hope that our Israeli friends will not be misled by false and biased reports and information, and be alert to the malicious intention of those separatists to sabotage China-Israel relations as well as the deep friendship between our two peoples.
The author is spokesman of the Embassy of People’s Republic of China in the State of Israel.