(TibetanReview.net, May23’23) – While the anniversary of a coerced 1951 deal under which China annexed Tibet appears to have been little noticed among Tibetan exiles, China highlighted the occasion it calls the peaceful liberation of Tibet with a media infographic on “Xizang’s astounding development over the past 72 years”. On the same day, China opened in Beijing its “2023 Forum on the Development of Xizang, China.”
The aim of the forum was “to improve global understanding of current situation in the Chinese Autonomous Region,” reported the official english.cctv.com May 23.
On May 23, 1951, the Agreement of the Central People’s Government and the Local Government of Xizang (Tibet) on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Xizang (also called 17-Article Agreement) was signed, said the official globaltimes.cn May 22.
Tibetans maintain, however, that the delegation it sent to Beijing in a state-to-state-level discussion had not been empowered to sign any such agreement, which it says was done under duress with the entire text drafted by the Chinese and with the Tibetan seal on it forged. Even so, given the gravity of the situation, the Tibetans tried to live with the terms of the so-called agreement. However, after China violated every article of it to virtually takeover the country, Tibetans revolted and the Dalai Lama declared, after escaping his occupied homeland in 1959, that the agreement was null and void.
The infographic sought to highlight the fact that “after 72 years, the Xizang Autonomous Region in Southwest China has seen remarkable progress and achieved astounding development. Now, the region enjoys a stable social environment, economic and cultural prosperity, and a sound eco-environment in which local residents are enjoying much happier lives.”
Tibetans maintain, however, that the developments have taken place at great cost to Tibet’s environment, as well as culture and identity, with China’s aim being to assimilate the local population and Sinicize the occupied territory.
Meanwhile, in his congratulatory letter to the forum, Chinese president Xi Jinping has said, “Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012, people in Tibet, 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.”
He has expressed hope that “on the new journey of advancing Chinese modernization, Tibet can fully and faithfully apply the new development philosophy on all fronts, step up efforts to promote high-quality development, and strive to build a prosperous, harmonious and beautiful new socialist Tibet underpinned by unity, civility and modernization so that the people of Tibet can enjoy better and more fulfilled lives.”
Sinicization has been underlined as the main focus of Xi Jinping’s new, high-quality development philosophy for Tibet.
The forum, themed “New Era, New Xizang, New Journey: New Chapter in Xizang’s High-quality Development and Human Rights Protection,” is being hosted by the State Council Information Office and the People’s Government of the Tibet Autonomous Region, said China’s official Xinhua news agency May 23.