Speech at the Opening Ceremony of the Third Forum on the Development of China's Tibet
Minister of the State Council Information Office of China
(Greece, November 10, 2011)
Today, the Third Forum on the Development of China's Tibet, jointly sponsored by the State Council Information Office of China, the Chinese Embassy in Greece, and the Hellenic-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, opens in the historic and cultural city of Athens. Government officials, experts and scholars, and personages from other walks of life from countries including China, Greece, India, Nepal, the UK, France and Germany, gather here to discuss the development of Tibet and explore ways in which we can cooperate, both in areas of economy, culture and so forth. This forum holds great significance for economic cooperation and cultural exchange between China and Greece. On behalf of the State Council Information Office of china, I would like to extend a warm welcome to all our guests and express my heartfelt thanks to the Greek government for its generous support, and I would also like to thank the Hellenic-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry for its contribution to this forum.
China and Greece, which are both ancient civilizations with a long history and splendid culture, have made a great contribution to the development of human civilization. Surrounded by the sun-bathed, beautiful and abundant Aegean Sea, the Greek people have made widely-admired contributions in the fields of literature, philosophy and the arts. Timeless classics such as Homer's epics and great thinkers such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle are well known to the Chinese people. China and Greece have a long history of contact and cooperation. In recent years, China and Greece have constantly expanded their exchange and cooperation in realms of politics, economy and culture, and the people of China and Greece have gained a greater understanding of each other. This forum will definitely play a role in deepening the mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples, as well as increasing and furthering cooperation between the two countries in the areas of economy, politics, society and culture.
Tibet, located in the southwestern most corner of China, is an autonomous region inhabited mostly by ethnic Tibetans. Since Tibet's peaceful liberation in 1951, the region has made great strides towards modernization and ushered in a new era of social development. Thanks to the continued attention of the central government, support from other localities nationwide, as well as concerted efforts by all ethnic groups in Tibet, Tibet has undergone great changes and made unprecedented progress in all aspects over the past six decades. The living standard of the local people has been dramatically improved and their average life expectancy has been raised to 67 years from the pre-liberation level of 35.5 years. Tibet has made historic progress in the development of its social system, economy and society. It is indeed a miracle that the ancient and mysterious plateau region has taken just decades to achieve what would have taken others a thousand years. Today, the snow-capped plateau is enjoying a golden era of development, with a growing economy, an evolving society, a prosperous culture, a higher standard of living, coexistence among different religions and a happy working and family life enjoyed by local people. Although Tibet still lags behind other developed regions in China in terms of modernization, the region has aligned itself with the pace of national development and has, due to its unique advantages, shown great potential for future growth.
Quite a few members of the Chinese delegation at this forum come from all walks of life in Tibet. Since they are decision makers of, participants in, and witnesses to Tibet's development, they have a relatively profound knowledge of all aspects of the region. They will exchange ideas and have open and candid discussions with government officials, experts and scholars, and personages from Greece and other countries and regions on issues concerning Tibet's development and cooperation. I believe that this will propel Tibet's development and facilitate its ability to cooperate with foreign countries, which will, in turn, benefit all ethnic groups in China including the Tibetans. As a developing country, China still faces plenty of problems and challenges. I sincerely hope that each guest here can speak without reservation and voice his enlightened opinions on Tibet's development to make this forum a productive and mutually beneficial high-level international platform. At the same time, I would like to avail myself of this opportunity to invite friends from Greece and other countries to visit the snowy plateau, also known as “roof of the world” to experience a true and new Tibet which is developing and changing.
I wish the Third Forum on the Development of China's Tibet every success!