LHASA - A grand ceremony was held in Potala Square on Monday morning as the Tibet autonomous region celebrated the 60th anniversary of its peaceful liberation.
Tibetan women turn prayer wheels outside the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, capital of the Tibet autonomous region, on Monday. Feng Yongbin / China Daily
In a speech at the celebration, Qiangba Puncog, head of the standing committee of the region's people's congress, said six decades of progress had put Tibet at a prime stage in its development. With the support of the central government and people throughout the country, Tibet is sure to embrace an even better future, he said.
More than 5,000 locals gathered in front of Potala Palace to watch the ceremony, which kicked off with the raising of the national flag. Their number included monks, officials and students.
Five flower baskets were laid at the Monument to the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet in memory of people who gave their lives for Tibet's liberation and throughout its development.
The gold-pointed roof pinnacles of Potala Palace gleamed in the morning sun and snowy peaks glistened in the distance at the point where pilgrims' roads converge, bringing the devout to the palace where they circle in a counterclockwise direction while praying.
Losang, a 73-year-old Lhasa resident, told China Daily he circles the palace five times every morning.
"The pilgrims' path surrounding Potala Palace is carefully decorated and kept clean," he said while turning his prayer wheel incessantly.
Chodron, a 68-year-old Tibetan from Qamdo prefecture, said she came to Lhasa for the ceremony and to make a pilgrimage to Potala Palace. She said, in old Tibet there was not a single highway or railway and it sometimes took her weeks to travel to the capital. Now, her journey has been shortened to a day.
Chodron said she was looking forward to other celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary in Lhasa, including traditional Tibetan dancing, opera and singing meetings.
Jampel Lhasang, a monk from Drepung Monastery, said he had seen huge changes in Tibet in the past decades.
"The government has helped us repair and decorate our monastery," he said. "Now, we live in clean and safe dormitories."
On May 23, 1951, representatives of the central government and the then Tibet local government signed the Agreement between the Central People's Government and the Local Government of Tibet on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet, known as the 17-point agreement. The document marked the realization of the peaceful liberation of Tibet.
The 17-point agreement established a foundation for Tibetan issues, including calling for the Tibetan people to unite and drive out imperialist aggressive forces, and one that said the Tibetan people shall return to the big family of the Chinese motherland.
According to Qiangba Puncog's speech, the peaceful liberation enabled Tibet to repel imperialist forces, end the long-term isolation and stagnation of Tibetan society, and initiate a new starting point for a modernized Tibetan society.
A symposium marking the 60th anniversary of Tibet's peaceful liberation was also held in Beijing on Monday.
Jia Qinglin, China's top political adviser, said at the symposium that Tibet is "an inseparable part of China" and noted that "its fate has always been closely linked to that of the motherland".
Tibet has made great achievements during the six decades, with "people of various ethnic groups in Tibet becoming masters of their own destiny, the economy is growing rapidly, life is improving greatly, religious beliefs are sufficiently respected, traditional culture properly protected and environmental protection greatly strengthened," said Jia.