The 2023 Forum on the Development of Xizang, China opened on Tuesday in Beijing to pool wisdom for further development of the autonomous region in southwest China.
The forum, themed "New Era, New Xizang, New Journey: New Chapter in Xizang's High-quality Development and Human Rights Protection," is hosted by the State Council Information Office and the People's Government of the Xizang Autonomous Region, bringing together officials, experts and representatives of enterprises and media organizations from home and abroad.
Five sub-forums are scheduled to discuss topics including whole-process people's democracy, high-quality development and Xizang's culture and ecological civilization.
President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory letter to the forum on the day, saying, "People's happiness is the ultimate human right, while development holds the key to delivering better lives to the people."
Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 2012, people in Xizang, with the strong support of the central government and people throughout the country, have worked with fortitude and brought about a resolution to the problem of extreme poverty that had plagued the region for centuries, said the letter.
After over 70 years of development, a new modern socialist Xizang, featuring political and social stability, economic prosperity, ethnic unity, religious harmony, consolidation of border defense and people living and working in peace and contentment, is now presented to the world, said Wang Junzheng, secretary of the Communist Party of China Xizang Autonomous Regional Committee, at the opening ceremony.
"People of various ethnic groups in Xizang have enjoyed a greater sense of accomplishment, happiness and security, and moderately prosperous lives along with the rest of the Chinese people," Wang said.
Colin Mackerras, a recipient of the Chinese Government Friendship Award and the Order of Australia, lauded Xizang's development over the past decades, citing his experience gained during visits to Xizang.
He said Xizang has eliminated absolute poverty and its infrastructure and living standards have improved dramatically.
"The new journey of Xizang is heading to the correct part of modernization and making Xizang a new Xizang," Nepalese Ambassador to China Bishnu Pukar Shrestha said at the forum.
Xizang conforms to the central government's governance policy, which upholds the Party's leadership, the socialist system with Chinese characteristics, and the system of regional ethnic unity and "has achieved high-quality development, maintained rapid economic growth, and heavily invested in education, medical care culture, housing, employment and social security," he said.
"China has made a lot of investment in protecting Xizang's cultural relics," said Zheng Dui, director-general of the China Tibetology Research Center, at the forum.
"In terms of our achievements in cultural protection and preservation, the first one is that we are protecting the Tibetan language," he said. "Learning and usage of the language are protected by law."
Maria Gustava, Mozambican ambassador to China, shared her visit to Xizang last week and said the trip was one of her most fascinating and amazing experiences.
She said she saw that people in Xizang are committed to improving their lives, promoting high-quality development, and moving forward to a united, prosperous, advanced, culturally harmonious and beautiful Xizang.
The peaceful liberation of Xizang
On May 23, 1951, the 17-Article Agreement was signed by the central government and the local government of Xizang on the peaceful liberation of Xizang.
Since then, the people of Xizang have broken free from the fetters of invading imperialism for good and have embarked on a bright road of unity, progress and development along with all the other ethnic groups in China.
In March 1959, democratic reform was launched in Xizang and feudal serfdom was finally abolished. In September 1965, the First Session of the First People's Congress of Xizang was convened, proclaiming the founding of the Xizang Autonomous Region.
With regional ethnic autonomy established and through the socialist transformation of agriculture and animal husbandry, Xizang embarked on the road to socialism.
Xizang has prioritized enhancing people's livelihoods as the foundation of its economic and social development.
Since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, over 80 percent of its annual fiscal revenue has been allocated for the improvement of people's livelihoods, and a comprehensive system for people's well-being encompassing education, healthcare and elderly care has been established.
In 2022, Xizang's gross domestic product soared to 213.26 billion yuan (about $30.3 billion), a remarkable increase of over 1,650 times compared to that in 1951.
Notably, Xizang achieved record-breaking agricultural output last year, with grain production surpassing 1.07 million tonnes.
Significant advancements were also made in healthcare. The region boasts a commendable number of medical and health institution beds, reaching 5.49 per 1,000 people, and the number of health technicians per 1,000 people stood at 7.18 last year.
The average life expectancy in Xizang has also risen from 35.5 years before the peaceful liberation to 72.19 years.
Education has also been a key focus in Xizang as the region successfully implemented a 15-year publicly funded education system covering kindergarten through high school. Xizang has built 3,339 schools with a total of 922,000 students.
(With input from Xinhua）