March 29, 2019 -- A convention is held to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the campaign of democratic reform in Tibet in the Potala Palace square in Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, in this aerial photo taken on March 28, 2019. (Xinhua/Purbu Zhaxi)
LHASA, March 29, 2019 -- Representatives from various ethnic groups and walks of life gathered in the Potala Palace square in Lhasa Thursday to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the campaign of democratic reform in Tibet.
At 10 a.m., Losang Jamcan, director of the Standing Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Regional People's Congress, declared the opening of the celebration meeting in both Tibetan and Mandarin, which was followed by a solemn ceremony of raising the national flag and singing the national anthem.
In March 1959, the Chinese central government dissolved the aristocratic local government of Tibet and freed more than 1 million serfs, making them the masters of the nation and society.
Tibet has made historic achievements and undergone tremendous changes since the democratic reform that started 60 years ago, said Wu Yingjie, Communist Party of China (CPC) chief of the region, when addressing the meeting.
The democratic reform completely obliterated the feudal serfdom of theocracy, changed the production relations of the old Tibet, smashed the shackles of feudal spirit and culture and freed local people from feudal political oppression.
The democratic reform is a major historic event in Tibet's development and human rights advancement, Wu said.
Over the past 60 years, Tibet's GDP has grown from 174 million yuan (25.9 million U.S. dollars) in 1959 to 147.76 billion yuan last year, marking an average annual increase of 9.5 percent, according to Wu.
Decisive progress has been made in poverty alleviation. More than 70 percent of poverty-stricken counties and 80 percent of the poverty-stricken population have been lifted out of poverty, Wu noted.
Furthermore, Tibet was the first region in China to provide free education for 15 years, and the illiteracy rate among young and middle-aged people has dropped to 0.52 percent.
Medical insurance has covered the whole population in Tibet, and Tibetan people's life expectancy has increased from 35.5 to 68.2 years, Wu said.