Illustrated White Paper on Democratic Reform in Tibet-Heavy taxes and larvee

China Human Rights Net > News > Focus > Illustrated White Paper on Democratic Reform in Tibet > I. Old Tibet -- A Society of Feudal Serfdom under Theocracy

Heavy taxes and larvee


China's government Monday published a white paper on the situation in Tibet before and since1959 to mark the 50th anniversary of the region's Democratic Reform. The paper, released by the State Council Information Office, reviewed the profound changes that have taken place in the past 50 years. It also shed light on the laws governing the social development of Tibet, and attempts to rebut lies and rumors it alleges were spread by the 14th Dalai Lama and his hard-core supporters.


Heavy taxes and larvee. Serf owners exploited serfs by imposing corvee labor, taxes and levies, and rents for land and livestock. There were over 200 kinds of taxes levied by the former local government of Tibet alone. Serfs had to contribute more than 50 percent or even 70 to 80 percent of their labor, unpaid, to the government and manor owners. At feudal manors, serf owners divided the land into two parts: Most fertile land was kept as manor demesne while infertile and remote lots were rented to serfs on stringent conditions. To use the lots, serfs had to work on the demesne with their own farm implements and provide their own food. Only after they had finished work on the demesne could they work on the lots assigned to them. In the busy farming season or when serf owners needed laborers, serfs had to contribute man and animal power gratis. In addition, serfs had to do unpaid work for the local government of Tibet and its subordinate organizations, among which the heaviest was transport corvee, because Tibet is large but sparsely populated and all kinds of things had to be transported by man or animal power.



A serf carrying his owner, one of dozens kinds of corvees


According to a survey conducted prior to the democratic reform of Tibet, the Darongqang Manor owned by Gyaltsap Tajtra had a total of 1,445 mu of land, and 81 able-bodied and semi-able-bodied serfs. They were assigned a total of 21,266 corvee days per year, the equivalent of an entire year's labor by 67.3 people, 83 percent of the total. The Khe-sum Manor, located by the Yarlung River in present-day Nedong County, was one of the manors owned by aristocrat Surkhang Wang-chen Gelek. Before the democratic reform, the manor had 59 serf households totaling 302 persons and 1,200 mu of land. Every year, Surkhang and his agents levied 18 taxes and assigned 14 kinds of corvee, making up 26,800 working days; the local government of Tibet levied nine kinds of taxes and assigned 10 kinds of corvee, making up more than 2,700 working days; and Riwo Choling Monastery levied seven kinds of taxes and assigned three kinds of corvee, making up more than 900 working days; on average, every laborer had to do over 210 days of unpaid work for the three estate-holders, and contribute over 800 kilograms of grain and 100 liang of silver.


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