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  • 来源:人权研究中心
  • 发布者:人权研究中心
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How human rights have progressed in Xizang


Palha manor in China's Xizang Autonomous Region is the only remaining aristocratic manor in the region. Kept in its original shape, the manor-turned-museum is a vivid presentation of how luxurious life was for the masters in the past.

By contrast, 90 percent of residents who lived in neighboring villages were serfs owned by the masters and lived a life that couldn't reach the level of livestock.

Dawa Chosphel, a resident from Bainjig Lhunbo Village, remembers that his grandparents and parents, who were serfs at the Palha manor, had to do intense manual labor day and night throughout the year.

"At that time, life was tough," he told CGTN.

Change began in 1959, when the Chinese central government dissolved the aristocratic local government of Xizang and freed more than 1 million serfs, making them the masters of the nation and society.

The village continued to thrive under a series of policies issued by the central government and has become a model village in the region with a modernized agricultural industry combining tourism and culture. What is more impressive is that 89 percent of the villagers have attended college.

"Now life is more prosperous, much better than before ... Their (serfs) current houses are taller and better than the ones their previous master had," said Pubu Tsering, a tour guide of Palha manor.

'They embraced freedom for the first time'

The transformation of lifestyle of villagers in Bainjig Lhunbo is a classic example of how 1 million Xizang serfs obtained their due rights after being emancipated as of March 28, 1959.

In 2009, the regional legislature even announced March 28 as the day to commemorate the historical event.

"The emancipation of more than 1 million serfs is undoubtedly the most profound social reform in Xizang's history, and a landmark of foundational significance in the history of human rights in the region," said Ma Cheng, executive director of the Human Rights Research Center of the Northwest University of Political Science and Law.

"Human rights means that a human being must be at first treated as a human being," Ma, who attended a side event of the ongoing 55th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, told CGTN. As the serfs broke the shackles and were able to decide their own destiny, "they embraced freedom for the first time, and henceforth became the real sense of human beings."

Earthshaking changes

Ma noted that Xizang has gone through a process of earthshaking transformation from an extremely backward medieval status to a new Xizang featured with Chinese modernization.

Before 1949, Xizang had long been a feudal serfdom under theocracy and the dictatorship of monks and nobles. Serf owners, who accounted for less than 5 percent of the total population, owned all the arable land, pastures, forests, mountains and rivers, and most of the livestock in the region.

"The darkness and cruelty in Xizang at that time was worse than that of serfdom in medieval Europe," said Ma.

Ma pointed out several major events in the cause of human rights development in Xizang except for the 1959's serf emancipation.

The peaceful liberation of Xizang after an agreement signed by the Chinese central government and local government of Xizang in March 1951 enabled the people of Xizang to break free from the fetters of invading imperialism for good, embarking on a bright road of unity, progress and development with all the other ethnic groups in China.

In 1965, the Xizang Autonomous Region was founded and its People's Committee was elected. Since then, the system of regional ethnic autonomy has been fully implemented in the region.

Entering the new era following the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 2012, a series of special preferential policies were enacted benefiting all ethnic groups in Xizang, including instructions to strengthen ethnic unity, and build a beautiful Xizang.

Under the leadership of the CPC, the officials and people in Xizang have worked diligently with one heart and one mind to resolve many long-standing and troublesome problems, and achieved many notable successes that were unimaginable in the past.

Before 1959, the average life expectancy in Xizang was only 35.5 years. The figure rose to 72.19 years in 2023. The regional GDP reached 239.3 billion yuan (about $33 billion) in 2023, representing a giant leap from the 1959 figure of a mere 174 million yuan.

"Over the past 75 years, Xizang has made remarkable progress in economic development and human rights, and the central government's strategy for administering Xizang has won universal support from the people of all ethnic groups in the region," Ma said.

He noted that however, several external forces, have kept distorting the history of Xizang and fabricating facts under the disguise of human rights to confuse public opinion and discredit the Chinese government.

"Rumors end with wisdom. I suggest that international friends who really care about China's development and the human rights cause in Xizang to come to the region and take a look. You will certainly have a real feeling," said the expert.