White Paper 2008: Protection and Development of Tibetan Culture
2008-09-25 22:35
Protection and Development of Tibetan Culture


Information Office of the State Council
of the People's Republic of China

Beijing, 25 September 2008





China is a unified multi-ethnic country. Tibet is an inseparable part of China, and the Tibetan ethnic group is an important member of the big family of the Chinese nation. The Tibetan ethnic group has a long history and a splendid culture. Tibetan culture is a lustrous pearl of Chinese culture as well as a precious part of world culture.

The Tibetans have been living on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau generation after generation. In a tough environment with unique natural conditions, they have demonstrated vitality and tenacity in pursuing a happy life. In their long history, the Tibetans have created a substantial, distinctive and diverse culture of their own through the understanding, adaptation, remaking and development of nature, society and themselves, and through cultural communication, integration and interaction with the people of the Han and other ethnic groups and peoples of southern and western Asia. Tibetan culture encompasses the indigenous spoken and written languages, philosophy, religion, medicine, astronomy and the calendar, music and dance, drama and folk performing arts, architecture, sculpture and painting, and arts and crafts. The Tibetan people have developed their culture by means of interaction and fusion with other cultures, especially that of the Han people. Over the centuries, Tibetan culture has remained a spiritual pillar for the Tibetan ethnic group.

Tibet had long been a society languishing under a system of feudal serfdom under theocratic rule, a society which was even darker than the European society of the Middle Ages, until the mid-20th century. Before 1959 the 14th Dalai Lama, as a leader of Tibetan Buddhism and also head of the Tibetan local government, monopolized both political and religious power. The serf owners, accounting for less than five percent of the total population of old Tibet, possessed all the means of production and cultural and educational resources in Tibet, monopolizing the material and cultural wealth of the region. The serfs and slaves, making up over 95 percent of the total population in old Tibet, suffered destitution, cruel oppression and exploitation, and possessed no means of production or personal freedom, not to mention access to culture and education. The long centuries of theocratic rule and feudal serfdom suffocated the vitality of Tibetan society and led to the decline of Tibetan culture.

The founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949 brought hope to the protection and development of Tibetan culture. Through the peaceful liberation in 1951 Tibet shook off imperialist invasion and trammels, ended its chronic isolation and stagnancy, and created the basic conditions for realizing progress and prosperity along with the rest of China. After the peaceful liberation of Tibet, the Central People's Government actively helped Tibet protect and recover its traditional culture, and develop its modern cultural, educational and health sectors, opening up a completely new chapter for the development of Tibetan culture. The Democratic Reform in 1959 abolished theocratic feudal serfdom, while ending the monopoly of the minority of nobility and senior monks over culture and education. The broad masses of serfs and slaves were politically, economically and mentally emancipated, and became the real masters in protecting, developing and enjoying Tibetan culture. The reform made Tibetan culture a people's culture, and inaugurated a promising future for its development.

Over the past half century, and especially since the adoption of the reform and opening-up policies in 1978, the Chinese government has attached great importance to the protection and development of Tibetan culture. With great enthusiasm and a highly responsible attitude, and in accordance with the Constitution of the People's Republic of China and the Law on Ethnic Regional Autonomy, the Chinese government has dedicated a large amount of manpower, materials and funds to the protection and promotion of fine traditional Tibetan culture, and vigorously developed modern scientific, educational and cultural undertakings in Tibet, bringing about unprecedented protection and development of Tibetan culture.

This white paper is published to give the international community a better understanding of the reality of the protection and development of Tibetan culture, citing facts to expose the lie about the "cultural genocide" in Tibet fabricated by the 14th Dalai Lama and his cohorts, exposing the deceptive nature of the "cultural autonomy of Tibet" they clamor for, and to further the protection and development of Tibetan culture.




I. Learning, Use and Development of the Spoken and Written Tibetan Languages

A member of the Han-Tibetan language family, Tibetan has been an important tool