(TibetanReview.net, Apr 01, 2009) — On a day supposedly meant to mark their emancipation from serfdom, China vowed to crackdown severely on Tibetans who would refuse to stay “emancipated” by engaging in activities it would deem as separatist. Kicking off the inaugural celebrations of the “Serfs Emancipation Day” for Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) on Mar 28, the regional Chinese party boss Zhang Qingli vowed to “severely crack down on any separatist activities”.
Addressing a symbolically representative crowd of 13,280 people – with 10,000 representing “one million serfs of old Tibet” and 328 meaning Mar 28 – Zhang thundered, as he did during the Beijing Olympics torch ceremony in the city last year, “The bright red five-star flag of China will always fly high over Tibet”, reported China’s official eng.Tibet.cn Mar 29 and the Mail and Guardian (South Africa) Mar 28. The colourful ceremony was broadcast live across China on state television.
On Feb 19, China ensured that, to oppose the exile Tibetans’ marking of the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan uprising Day on Mar 10, the rubberstamp parliament of TAR unanimously approved a motion to mark Mar 28 with celebrations and a holiday. It was on this day in 1959 that Chinese premier Zhao Enlai issued an order to dissolve the “local government” of Tibet and called for the initiation of so-called “democratic reforms” there.
Celebrations marking the day, forgotten until its 50th anniversary this year, were held in both Lhasa and Beijing, as well as throughout TAR and other places, besides Chinese embassies around the world. The celebrations in Beijing included an evening gala featuring “mainly songs and dances performed by Tibetan artists expressing their joys and gratitude over the liberation of Tibetan serfs in 1959,” reported China’s official Xinhua news agency Mar 28.
All nine members of China’s Politburo Standing Committee visited on Mar 27 the 50th Anniversary of Democratic Reform in Tibet exhibition being held at the Cultural Palace of Nationalities in Beijing. Xinhua Mar 27 quoted President Hu Jintao as saying the “good situation” in today’s Tibet was “hard-earned and should be highly cherished” and that the reform 50 years ago was “the most extensive, profound and progressive social transformation in the history of Tibet.”
He was reported to have called for speeding up Tibet’s economic development so that it could move from being “basically stable” to “peaceful and stable in the long run.”
The exhibition had opened on Feb 24, 2009 and was designed to show that Tibet has been a part of China since the Yuan Dynasty (1271 to 1368 AD), that China liberated it from serfdom in 1959, and the great positive changes it had gone through since then. China had earlier conducted guided tours for both foreign journalists and foreign diplomats to the exhibition.
The report said the exhibition, co-organized by the State Council Information Office, the State Ethnic Affairs Commission and the Tibet Autonomous Region, had attracted about 137,000 visitors since its opening.
Also, a symposium was held in Beijing, marking the 50th anniversary in Beijing. A Xinhua report Mar 27 cited Jia Qinglin, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), as saying that no matter what the Dalai Lama claims, Tibet “is and will always be part of China”. He was shown shaking hands with the Chinese government appointed Panchen Lama Gyaincain Norbu at the symposium. The official China Daily newspaper Mar 28 cited Gyaincain as vowing to commit his whole life to the unification of China and solidarity of all its ethnic groups.
And in a state televised interview on Mar 27, Gyaincain, probably for the first time, criticized the Dalai Lama by name. “For a long time the Dalai’s separatist clique has ignored the success of Tibet’s development, plotted and planned to ruin Tibet’s social stability and wantonly attacked the policies of the central government,” the AFP Mar 30 quoted him as having said.