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Socialist Transformation of Handicrafts
and Private Commerce in Tibet

[This article is reprinted from Peking Review, Vol. 19, #21, May 21, 1976, pp. 5 & 28.]

Since the start of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, Party organizations at all levels in the Tibet Autonomous Region under the guidance of Chairman Mao’s proletarian revolutionary line and taking class struggle as the key link have carried out the socialist transformation of the handicrafts and private commerce in the cities and towns in the light of the actual conditions in the region’s socialist revolution. Today, all commerce in Tibet is state-owned and more than 90 per cent of the handicraft units have set up co-operatives. They are all now advancing along the broad socialist road.

The rapid socialist transformation represents yet another great social change since the establishment of rural people’s communes in Tibet. This deep-going socialist transformation movement is of tremendous importance for strengthening the dictatorship of the proletariat, further consolidating the defences on the southwestern frontiers of the motherland and speeding up socialist revolution and construction in Tibet.

Before the democratic reform in Tibet, handicrafts were on the verge of extinction and private commerce had dwindled sharply under the reactionary feudal serf-owning system. In 1959, the million serfs of Tibet, under the wise leadership of Chairman Mao and the Party Central Committee, shattered the armed rebellion staged by the Dalai traitorous clique, carried out the democratic reform and smashed the feudal serf-owning system. This historic change has emancipated the serfs and slaves and shattered the centuries-old shackles that had fettered the development of handicrafts and commerce in this region. After the democratic reform, handicraft workers, in warm response to Chairman Mao’s call “Get organized,” formed mutual-aid teams and production increased rapidly. During the Great Cultural Revolution and the movement to criticize Lin Piao and Confucius, they criticized in a deep-going way the counter-revolutionary revisionist line of Liu Shao-chi and Lin Piao and the crimes committed by the Dalai traitorous clique against the people, the motherland and socialism. With their consciousness of class struggle and the two-line struggle heightened and with soaring socialist enthusiasm, the handicraft workers were eager to form producers’ co-operatives and take the road of common prosperity. Generous financial, material and technological help were rendered by the state. By the end of 1975, the whole autonomous region had basically achieved co-operation and formed some 400 handicraft co-ops in 28 trades including woollen textiles, leather, tanning, tailoring and the making of iron and wooden ware, potttery and cooking utensils. At the same time, the socialist transformation of private commerce was carried out, and the pedlars were all organized to take the road of serving socialism.

The swift realization of co-operation in handicrafts and private commerce reflects the strong desire of the masses to take the socialist road under the leadership of the Party. In high morale, the handicraftsmen are advancing in big strides along the road of collectivization. Many factories and co-operatives have formed three-in-one technical innovation groups made up of workers, cadres and technicians and are boldly and ingeniously remodelling tools and equipment and improving working processes and techniques. They are advancing towards semi-mechanization and full mechanization. The liberation of the productive forces and improvement in techniques have rapidly increased the production of articles of all kinds and improved their quality. The variety of handicraft products in the autonomous region last year was 2.5 times as many as before the setting up of co-operatives in 1965 while the total output value increased 2.28-fold. A great number of former slaves and impoverished serfs have become cadres and technical backbone forces at the grass-roots level and many of them have been admitted into the Communist Party. All handicraft co-operatives have set up Party organizations and revolutionary committees (or revolutionary leading groups) as well as trade unions, Communist Youth League organizations and militia, security and women’s organizations. This has further strengthened the dictatorship of the proletariat.

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