BY Zhao Yan, China News Service (CNS)
(CNS) -- The governance of ethnic minority areas in the borderland is an important measurement of the Communist Party of China's capacity-building in governance. Since the peaceful liberation of Tibet in 1951, the CPC's strategy and practice of governing Tibet has gone through essential changes. Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012, the successful practice of policies to develop Tibet has further demonstrated the enhancement of the CPC's governance capacity. Why do we say these policies are successful in terms of practical effects, historical achievements, and a comparison between the East and the West? Che Minghuai, former vice president of the Tibet Autonomous Region Academy of Social Sciences, recently, gave a detailed explanation in an exclusive interview with China News Agency's East-West Quest.
Excerpts from the interview:
China News Agency: How does the CPC's strategy for governing Tibet differ from those of all previous central governments?
Che Minghuai: The implementation of the policies of various dynasties laid the foundation for the central government to govern Tibet effectively. Since the founding of the People's Republic of China, the strategy of governing Tibet has witnessed qualitative changes, as demonstrated by the full implementation of peaceful liberation and new governance strategy. Throughout the hundreds of years before the peaceful liberation, the management of Tibet by the central governments of various dynasties has been mired in a low-level, inefficient situation, relying either on mollification or on entrusting local officials only to exercise well-timed management. Without grass-root organizations set up by the central government and lacking strong top-down institutions as in the inland provinces, drawbacks of this form of management were exposed by the end of the Qing Dynasty. At that time, when Tibet faced both imperialist invasions and disputes among various local forces, the central government was unable to respond in a timely manner. Therefore, such form of management could no longer adapt to modern society, which features development and changes.
The peaceful liberation of Tibet thus completely changed the backward governance form of the feudal dynasty. After that, the People's Liberation Army entered Tibet and shouldered the important task of defending China's frontiers; party and government organizations at all levels devoted themselves to the grassroots level to take responsibility for managing society, speeding up production, developing economic and cultural undertakings, and creating a happy and better life for the people everywhere. Especially after the democratic reform, which ensured the people's position as the country's masters, various rights of ethnic minorities were guaranteed thanks to the system of regional ethnic autonomy. This, coupled with concerted efforts from party and government officials at all levels and working people to build their hometowns and manage localities, led to the end of the chaotic situation of tribal conflicts and fighting. The change reflects the essential difference between the strategy and practice of governing Tibet in new China and in the feudal dynasties.
CNS: In the early days, the CPC had specific propositions on resolving ethnic-areas issues. It has also made commitments on issues related to Tibet that were unachievable for previous central governments. What are the considerations for formulating these policies?
Che: It should be said that since its establishment, the Communist Party of China has written on its own banner and effectively implemented the pursuit of happiness for people of all ethnic groups. Since the peaceful liberation of Tibet, the CPC has made commitments on Tibet's sovereignty and Tibet-related affairs that previous central governments were unable to fulfill, which can be reflected at least in the following aspects: first, expelling imperialist forces from Tibet and establishing and consolidating China's national defense with modern significance; second, overthrowing the feudal serf system and liberating millions of serfs; third, establishing a system of regional ethnic autonomy to provide institutional guarantees for people of all ethnic groups in Tibet to live happy lives; and fourth, developing modern economic, political and cultural undertakings and protecting the ecological environment to improve people's living standards.
The CPC's original aspirations in solving the Tibet issue were to realize the political, personal and productivity liberation of the people, and to seek happiness for people of all ethnic groups in Tibet. In the process of leading the revolution and development of Tibet, Tibetans of all ethnic groups are always put first. This people-oriented principle has been upheld in all work, including the peaceful liberation of Tibet; the implementation of agreements; the construction of roads; the reclamation of wasteland for production; and relief for the poor and the needy, especially in leading Tibetans to overthrow the feudal serf system, carrying out democratic reforms, liberating millions of serfs, and establishing and implementing a system of regional ethnic autonomy to provide institutional guarantees for the people of all ethnic groups to live a happy life. In doing so, Tibet's productive forces have experienced unprecedented liberation, and the people's position as the country's masters has been assured, which has contributed to Tibet's political, economic and cultural boom and a truly happy life for all Tibetans.
If there are some considerations for the CPC leaders to formulate policies on Tibet, that can be summarized in two sentences:"The interests of the country are above everything else" and "The interests of the people of all ethnic groups are above everything else."
CNS: What is the difference between China and some Western countries regarding the policies and systems towards ethnic minorities?
Che: Affected by white supremacy, many members of European and American ethnic groups are reluctant to reveal their ethnic identities in public. Now that there is no legal identification of ethnic identity, it is impossible for many European and American countries to roll out targeted human rights protection measures according to the social problems plaguing ethnic minorities, let alone introduce preferential political, economic and cultural policies for them. The fact that the killing of black people has frequently occurred in the United States and that black people's personal safety is threatened sheds light on that.
It can be seen from the CPC's strategy and practice of Tibet governance that China's ethnic policies and practices are largely different from that of some European countries and the United States. Politically, the system of regional ethnic autonomy guarantees the right of the Tibetans and other ethnic minorities to be the masters of the country. Economically, ethnic minorities enjoy not only all the fruits of economic and social development, but also the various preferential policies formulated by the country for Tibet covering such areas as urban and rural production and living; education; medical care; housing, and poverty alleviation. Culturally, from language to cultural relics, from the compilation and publication of ancient books to the passing-on of intangible cultural heritage, national culture with Tibetan characteristics has been fully protected and promoted. At the same time, all ethnic groups in Tibet actively participated in the modernization endeavor by throwing themselves into the tide of the market economy and fully demonstrated the style of the times and their due self-improvement, confidence and pride by communicating with other ethnic groups nationwide. They are all striving for a modern, socialist Tibet.
CNS: At what point do we say that the CPC's policies on Tibet governance is successfully implemented in Tibet? What are the prominent features of these policies?
Che: With the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China as a symbol, China's modernization process entered a new era, and the strategy and practice of governing Tibet have witnessed massive success. Obviously these policies are successful in that the five-sphere integrated plan of promoting economic, political, cultural, social and environmental progress was realized. Specifically, the success is embedded in the rapid growth of economic comprehensive indicators, the basically stable society, the remarkable achievements in poverty alleviation, and the enhancement of people's well-being and happiness. In addition, national unity is consolidated; religious conflicts occur less frequently; the awareness of the Chinese nation's community is deeply rooted in people's mind; and preservation of the environment is constantly yielding positive results.
Generally, the strategy of governing Tibet in the new era is characteristic of distinct inheritance, extensive people-orientation and remarkable innovation when practiced in Tibet.
Historically, the CPC's strategy for governing Tibet and its practice present distinct inheritance and continuity. To be more specific, generations of people have maintained their original aspirations and remained consistent so that the strategy of governing Tibet can be passed down and developed according to the social development process. For example, thanks to its over 70 years' experience in governing Tibet, the CPC has perfectly extended the successful practice of Tibetan governance since the peaceful liberation. On the basis of the important achievements of the first five Tibet work symposiums, held in 1980, 1984, 1994, 2001 and 2010, and considering the development needs of the new era, the "six must-dos" were put forward for the first time to guide Tibet governance at the sixth Tibet work symposium and implemented since then. Five years later, facing new situations and tasks, General Secretary Xi Jinping proposed the "10 must-dos" at the seventh Tibet work symposium, which not only cover all the "six must-dos" but are also more comprehensive and profound, since they are constantly enriched and improved to keep up with times. It should be said that the "10 must-dos" comprehensively sublimated the successful practice of the CPC's strategy for governing Tibet in the new era.
Also, the CPC's successful implementation of its policies on developing Tibet lies in its broad people-oriented leadership. Prioritizing people's interests and serving the people is the CPC's founding principle and purpose. Since the peaceful liberation of Tibet, the theory and practice of the strategy for governing it have been broadly people-oriented; that is to say, the CPC spares no effort in pursuing the interests of the people of all ethnic groups in Tibet, regardless of the cost. When formulating Tibet-related policies, particularly in the new era, the starting and end points for several generations of leaders have always been to create a happy, beautiful life for Tibetans of all ethnic groups.
Innovation is another key factor in successfully practicing Tibet governance strategy in the new era. Continuous innovation serves as an unfailing source of the CPC's vitality in governing and stabilizing the country, and it is a distinctive feature of the successful practice of the strategy. Since the new era began, the leaders of the Communist Party of China have attached great importance to the work in Tibet. General Secretary Xi Jinping visited Tibet in person for inspection and guidance, giving important instructions on the work in Tibet many times. Through the leaders' efforts, the Tibet governance strategy in the new era was finally established with many innovations in the process of practice. In particular, it targets four major issues – stability, development, environment and frontier defense– thus solving many longstanding problems that we wanted to solve but were unable, and accomplishing many major tasks that we wanted to accomplish in the past but failed.
For example, in terms of safeguarding the people's rights to be the masters of the country, we develop democracy in the whole process. In terms of social construction, we innovate and improve social management mechanisms for people's well-being, social harmony and stability. In the field of economic construction, we lay equal stress on railway, highway and aviation construction and environmental protection. Equal emphasis is also placed on poverty alleviation and relocation of impoverished residents, as well as strengthening borders and consolidating the foundation. In the fields of people's livelihood and society, the entire rural poor population was lifted out of poverty, and farmers and herdsmen have embraced a life at the modern level. Basic employment for families as a unit and innovative one-stop service mechanisms for social undertakings are guaranteed. A new way of aiding Tibet — aiding in the form of groups— was created. In terms of national unity, we focus on building awareness of the community of the Chinese nation. As for religious work, we strive for harmony among different religions and actively guide them to adapt to a socialist society. These are all concrete manifestations of innovation in inheritance and development in innovation.