On 23 August 1991, the Sub-Commission on Prevention and Discrimination and Protection of Minorities of the United Nations, in Geneva, adopted a resolution expressing, concern at the “continuing reports of violations of fundamental human rights and freedoms which threaten the distinct cultural, religious and national identity of the Tibetan people. “It called on the Chinese Government “fully to respect the fundamental human rights and freedoms of the Tibetan people.” On 18 December 1991, the Chinese Government sent a reply to the United Nations Office at Geneva, a portion of which is excerpted below.
“China is a unified multinational State. In addition to the Han Nationality which accounts for the overwhelming majority of the country´s population, there are another 55 minority nationalities, including Tibetans. In such a multinational State, the proper handling of the ethnic question and relationship is always a major issue concerning the country´s stability and development… There are explicit provisions in both China´s Constitution and the Law on Regional National Autonomy stipulating that different nationalities enjoy completely equal rights in the political, economic, cultural and other fields. These provisions have been carried out fully in Tibet. Tibet is one of the autonomous regions of China and an administrative unit at the provincial level. The people´s congress and government of the Tibet Autonomous Region not only have the same range of power as enjoyed by the local State organs in other provinces, but also enjoy many special rights for autonomous regions provided for in the Law on Regional National Autonomy, These special rights include establishing autonomous organisations, exercising regional national autonomy, using and developing the spoken and written Tibetan language, formulating regulations on the exercise of autonomy and separate regulations according to the political, economic and cultural features of Tibet, implementing State laws and policies in line with the local actual conditions, formulating and implementing special policies, managing and independently arranging projects of local economic development, independently managing educational, cultural, and public health undertakings, protecting and developing traditional culture, protecting local environment, and independently exploring and using local natural resources. The Tibetan people, like other nationalities in China, enjoy all the citizen´s rights embodied in the Constitution and the State laws, such as freedom of religious belief, and also enjoy other special rights designed by autonomous organization´s rules and regulations to preserve the special interest of the minority nationalities. Over the past 40 years, achievements recognized by the whole world have been achieved in Tibet´s economic and cultural development. The splendid traditional culture of Tibet has been inherited and developed with unprecedented progress in such fields as education, science, culture, public health as well as other social welfare under takings for public benefit. The people´s living standard is fully respected and protected. According to the statistics in 1990, the average life expectancy in Tibet was prolonged from 35 years in the early 1950s to 65 years, and the population increased from around 1 million to 2.19 million, among which 2.09 million are Tibetans. In the Tibetan Autonomous Region, the number of Tibetan cadres reached 37,000 or more, accounting for 66.6 per cent of the number of cadres there. At the levels of autonomous region and county, the percentage of Tibetan cadres are 72 per cent and 61.2 per cent respectively.”