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China Issues White Paper on Tibetan Culture (Jun 22 2000)
2004-03-09 13:08
                      To refute the prattling of the Dalai Lama clique that
                      "Tibetan Culture has become extinct," the Information
                      Office of the State Council released a White Paper on
                      "the Development of Tibetan Culture" Thursday.

                      Detailing numerous facts and figures, the White Paper,
                      which runs in 12,000 Chinese characters, said that over
                      the past four decades and more, Tibet has made much
                      headway in carrying forward the fine aspects of its
                      traditional culture, while maintaining Tibetan cultural
                      traits, and exposed the true political colors of the
                      Dalai Lama.

                      Before the 1959 Democratic Reform, Tibet was a local
                      regime practicing a system of feudal serfdom under a
                      theocracy, and ruled by a few upper-class monks and
                      nobles, it said.

                      The paper explained that throughout this period, a
                      handful of upper-class lamas and aristocrats monopolized
                      the means of production, culture and education and
                      cultural and artistic pursuits were regarded as their
                      exclusive amusements, while the serfs and slaves, who
                      constituted 95 percent of the Tibetan population, lived
                      in extreme poverty and were not guaranteed even the
                      basic right of subsistence, let alone the right to enjoy
                      culture and education.

                      After the People's Republic of China was founded in
                      1949, the Central People's Government attached great
                      importance to the protection and development of the fine
                      aspects of traditional Tibetan culture, the White Paper

                      In 1959, with the support of the Central Government,
                      Tibet carried out the Democratic Reform to abolish the
                      feudal serf system and liberate the million serfs and
                      slaves, and implemented the ethnic regional autonomy
                      system there step by step, it noted.

                      "This marked the advent of a brand-new era in the social
                      and cultural development of Tibet, and ended the
                      monopoly exercised over Tibetan culture by the few
                      upper-class feudal lamas and aristocrats, making it the
                      common legacy for all the people of Tibet to inherit and
                      carry on," it said.

                      The document expounded in seven chapters on the
                      government protection of Tibetan language, cultural
                      relics, ancient books and records, folk customs and
                      freedom of religion, and on the development of art,
                      Tibetan studies, Tibetan medicine and pharmacology,
                      education, and recreational facilities and institutions
                      in the Tibet Autonomous Region^After the "Cultural
                      Revolution" ended in 1978, the Central People's
                      Government took prompt measures to repair and protect a
                      lot of historical relics, investing more than 300
                      million yuan to repair and open 1,400-odd monasteries
                      and temples in Tibet. In particular, between 1989 and
                      1994, the Central People's Government allocated 55
                      million yuan and a great quantity of gold, silver and
                      other precious materials to repair the Potala Palace,
                      which was unprecedented in China's history of historical
                      relic preservation.

                      The state respects and safeguards the rights of the
                      Tibetans and other ethnic groups in Tibet to live their
                      lives and conduct social activities in accordance with
                      their traditional customs, and the Central Government
                      and the government of the Tibet Autonomous Region have
                      all along paid special attention to respect for and
                      protection of the freedom of religious belief and normal
                      religious activities of the Tibetan people.

                      Tibet is today home to more than 1,700 monasteries,
                      temples and other sites of religious activity, with over
                      46,000 Buddhist monks and nuns. Each year, religious
                      activities are held and important religious festivals
                      are celebrated on schedule in the Autonomous Region.
                      Culture and art are being inherited and developed in an
                      all- round way. The regional authorities set up special
                      bodies in 1979 for the collection, research, editing and
                      publishing of the Life of King Gesar, an orally pass-on
                      epic by artists. And after 20 years of effort, nearly
                      300 handwritten or block-printed Tibetan volumes have
                      been collected. Among them, except 100 variant volumes,
                      about 70 volumes have been formally published in the
                      Tibetan language.

                      "This was an unprecedented achievement in protecting the
                      Tibetan literary and art heritage, as well as in
                      publishing history," the paper said.

                      -- Old Tibet had no Tibetan studies in the modern sense,
                      no proper school, no genuine news and publishing
                      industry, and the materials printed by the few
                      wood-block printing houses were almost all scriptures.
                      The only two clinics in Lhasa only served the nobles,
                      feudal lords and upper-strata lamas. And today, historic
                      progress has been made in all the fields mentioned
                      above, and the Tibetan medicine and pharmacology is
                      taking its place in the world.

                      The White Paper said that "it deserves careful
                      reflection that, although Tibetan culture is developing
                      continuously, the Dalai Lama clique is clamoring all
                      over the world that 'Tibetan culture has become
                      extinct,' and, on this pretext, is whipping up
                      anti-China opinions with the backing of international
                      antagonist forces. "

                      It pointed out that with the elimination of feudal
                      serfdom, the cultural characteristics under the old
                      system, in which Tibetan culture was monopolized by a
                      few serf-owners was bound to become " extinct," and so
                      was the old cultural autocracy marked by theocracy and
                      the domination of the entire spectrum of socio-
                      political life by religion, which was an inevitable
                      outcome of both the historical and cultural development
                      in Tibet.

                      "To prattle about the 'extinction of Tibetan culture'
                      due to its acquisition of the new contents of the new
                      age and to its progress and development is in essence to
                      demand that modern Tibetan people keep the life styles
                      and cultural values of old Tibet's feudal serfdom wholly
                      intact," it said "This is completely ridiculous, for it
                      goes against the tide of progress of the times and the
                      fundamental interests of the Tibetan people," the White
                      Paper said. With the deepening development of China's
                      reform and opening-up and the modernization drive,
                      especially the practice of the strategy of large-scale
                      development of the western region, Tibet is striding
                      toward modernization and going global with a completely
                      new shape, and new and still greater development will
                      certainly be achieved in Tibetan culture in this
                      process, the White Paper concluded.

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