Xinhua Headlines: Tibet - 60 years of democratic reform through a lense
Last Updated: 2019-03-27 13:23 | Xinhua
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About a week before this year's Serfs' Emancipation Day, which falls on March 28, Badro celebrated his 99th birthday with relatives and local officials at home in Lhasa, capital of Tibet Autonomous Region.

Sixty years ago, more than 1 million people, or 90 percent of the region's population at that time, were emancipated from the feudal serfdom.

Badro was 39 years old when the sweeping democratic reform ushered in a new chapter for the plateau region in southwest China. Before that, he had lived a miserable life, without dignity, freedom or even his own home.

"I was like the serf owner's farming mule during the day and house dog at night, sleeping in the cattle pen," he said.

No modern medical institution was available at the time. A serf could only wait for death to come from falling ill. People's average life span was only 35.5 years.

"I never expected to live long," he said.

Badro had eight siblings, six of whom were forced to leave their hometown to beg for a living.

Crop yields were extremely low before the democratic reform. The regional GDP was only 174 million yuan (25.9 million U.S. dollars) in 1959, with social wealth in the hands of no more than 5 percent of the population.

An ancient Tibetan ballad describes the miserable life of serfs at the time: "Stomach remained empty even if snow mountains turned into butter; mouth continued to be thirsty even if rivers turned into milk; bodies were not ours even though they were given by our parents."

But the democratic reform that began 60 years ago changed everything.

Badro was granted land, housing and livestock that year, and he got married and had children. The family of five now live in a spacious and bright Tibetan house. Various insurances and subsidies amount to over 13,000 yuan a month.

After 60 years of rapid development, the regional GDP soared to 147.8 billion yuan, an increase of 191 times calculated at comparable prices. Urban and rural per capita disposable incomes are 73 times and 105 times that in 1965, respectively. Crop yields in Tibet stabilized at over 1 million tonnes a year. Its total highway mileage stands at 97,400 km and is still expanding.

"I hope I can live even longer to see a more prosperous Tibet," the 99-year-old Tibetan said as his birthday wish.

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Xinhua Headlines: Tibet - 60 years of democratic reform through a lense
Source:Xinhua | 2019-03-27 13:23
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