Re­gion to mark his­tory, look ahead

Septem­ber brings 50th an­niver­sary of re­gion as eco­nomic growth soars

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By XIN­HUA

The year of 2015 is ex­pected to be event­ful for the south­west­ern Chi­nese au­ton­o­mous re­gion Ti­bet, as it ush­ers in cru­cial an­niver­saries and strives for devel­op­ment achieve­ments.

The Ti­betan year of the Wooden Ram started on Feb 19, which co­in­cides with the Chi­nese Lu­nar New Year this year.

In Septem­ber, China will ob­serve the 50th an­niver­sary of the found­ing of Ti­bet Au­ton­o­mous Re­gion.

This year also marks the 30th an­niver­sary of China send­ing the first Ti­betan stu­dents to study in in­land cities, to boost the devel­op­ment of the land­locked Hi­malayan re­gion.

Both an­niver­saries will serve as re­minders of how Ti­bet, a back­wa­ter with an in­hu­mane serf sys­tem, has de­vel­oped over the past decades.

More eco­nomic growth po­ten­tial is ex­pected to be un­leashed in Ti­bet this year, which has main­tained dou­ble-digit growth over the past 20 years.

In 2015, Ti­bet, still one of the poor­est re­gions in the world’s sec­ond largest econ­omy, will aim to main­tain eco­nomic growth at 12 per­cent, the same as last year. An eye catch­ing fig­ure against the back­drop of China’ s slow­ing econ­omy. The per capita net in­come of farm­ers and herds­men on the plateau in­creased by 14 per­cent year on year in 2014.

The growth mo­men­tum is ex­pected to help Ti­bet, where about 10 per­cent of the re­gional pop­u­la­tion live un­der the na­tional poverty line of 2,300 yuan, to catch up with other ar­eas and ful­fill China’s goal of build­ing a well-off so­ci­ety by 2020.

In the first weeks of this year, ten­sion and con­fronta­tion have al­ready emerged be­tween Bei­jing and the West over Ti­bet, which has been part of Chi­nese ter­ri­tory since an­cient time.

China this month re­it­er­ated its firm and con­sis­tent stance against any form of for­eign in­ter­ven­tion af­ter U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama warmly ac­knowl­edged the Dalai Lama in Wash­ing­ton de­spite Bei­jing’s protests.

Since tak­ing of­fice in 2009, Obama has met with the 14th Dalai Lama for sev­eral times. The U.S. Cen­tral In­tel­li­gence Agency sup­ported him in se­ces­sion­ist ac­tiv­i­ties in the 1950s and 1960s.

The move was re­garded an ex­ten­sion of the White House’s self-con­flict­ing Ti­bet pol­icy -- it does not back Ti­bet in­de­pen­dence but sends con­tra­dict­ing sig­nals that en­cour­age the sep­a­ratists.

This year, the Dalai Lama will turn 80 years old, an oc­ca­sion which has al­ready been used by the po­lit­i­cal ex­ile as an op­por­tu­nity to preach the de facto in­de­pen­dence of Ti­bet.

To re­gain his wan­ing in­flu­ence, the monk said in De­cem­ber that his tra­di­tional re­li­gious role should cease with his death. A claim that is against the Ti­betan Bud­dhism tra­di­tion as the soul of a se­nior lama is rein­car­nated in the body of a child on his death. This could up­set the rein­car­na­tion sys­tem that has been hon­ored for hun­dreds of years in Ti­bet and desta­bi­lize the Bud­dhist re­gion.

An­a­lysts say that in an ex­tra­or­di­nary year, main­tain­ing so­cial sta­bil­ity will take painstak­ing ef­forts for the Ti­betan-in­hab­ited re­gions that have seen self-im­mo­la­tion and fa­tal vi­o­lence over the past years.

Chen Quan­guo, Com­mu­nist Party of China (CPC) chief of Ti­bet, urged the re­gion’s of­fi­cials to stay alert of any­thing that could threaten sta­bil­ity.

“Main­tain­ing sta­bil­ity is still a chal­lenge for Ti­bet [...] sta­bil­ity su­per­sedes all,” he told a re­gional work con­fer­ence.

Ti­bet is an ad­min­is­tra­tive di­vi­sion of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China.

PHO­TOS BY JOGOD/XIN­HUA

Lhasa res­i­dents usher in the year of 2015 with songs and dances and pre­sent­ing hada to each other on Feb 19. The up­com­ing year will bear wit­ness to cru­cial an­niver­saries.

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