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Forum on development of Tibet opens in Vienna
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Tibet will further open up to the outside world and attract more direct foreign investment while promoting ecological and environmental protection, Nyima Tsering, vice chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, said here Thursday.

"We shall participate in domestic and international economic cooperation and competition in more fields and on a higher level, and strengthen cross-regional economic and technological exchanges and cooperation," Tsering said at the opening of "the First Forum on the Development of Tibet, China" in Vienna.

He said Tibet would work hard to develop an open economy and promote regional economic and trade cooperation on different levels and by various means, especially with southern Asian countries, in the wake of the launch of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway.

In his speech, Nyima Tsering elaborated on the progress achieved by Tibet over the past four decades and the challenges facing Tibetans.

He said that to pursue sustainable and balanced development of the autonomous region, Tibet must continuously push forward the "frog-leap" mode in economic and social development, accelerate infrastructure construction and promote the construction of "a new countryside."

It is a priority of the Tibetan government to improve the working and living conditions of farmers and herdsmen and increase their incomes, he said.

Tibet will also deepen reform and innovate systems, he added.

"We shall follow the established path of market economy development, treat the market as a guiding force, and continue to actively reform the investment and financing mechanism so as to attract more investment," he said.

According to Nyima Tsering, since the establishment of the Tibetan autonomous region, Tibet has been in the best period of economic development with the fastest economic growth thanks to the strong support of the central government of China and unselfish assistance by other parts of the country.

Tibet has maintained an economic growth rate of over 12 percent for the past six consecutive years, and in 2006, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the region reached 29.1 billion yuan (about 3.93 billion U.S. dollars), 89 times that of 1965, he said.

Over the last four decades, Tibet has witnessed comprehensive progress in social construction, he said.

"A fairly complete modern educational and medical care system has been installed in Tibet," he added.

There are six universities, 118 high schools, seven intermediate vocational schools and 880 elementary schools in Tibet, with a total enrollment of 540,000 students and attendance of 96.5 percent of the school-age population, he elaborated.

The life of the Tibetan people has improved significantly over the past four decades, he said.

"Social stability is being continuously maintained and people are enjoying their life and work," he said.

In his words, Tibet is a region rich in local resources, such as abundant grasslands, mineral, water, forest, flora and fauna, and tourist resources, which have created great conditions for Tibet's development.

But to achieve further progress, Tibet faces many challenges, he pointed out, citing weak infrastructure basis, investment and vulnerable ecological environment among others.

"We deeply understand we must make a lot more effort in the long run, and will sincerely implement a human-oriented and scientific outlook for coordinated and sustainable development, and work hard to solve existing problems while adhering to a policy of reform and development," he added.

The senior Tibetan leader encouraged people around the world to visit Tibet more instead of listening to "untrue" and "unfriendly" reports about the region.

"Tibet is a place where people live happily and also a beautiful tourist resort," he said. "I believe a fast-growing and new Tibet will leave every visitor an unforgettable memory."

The two-day forum on Tibet is jointly sponsored by the State Council Information Office of China, the Chinese embassy in Austria, the permanent mission of China to the United Nations and other international organizations in Vienna and Austrian organizations including the Organization to Support the Austrian and Chinese Economic Cooperations.

The multilateral international academic forum on Tibet's development is the first of its kind held by China's State Council Information Office, said Qian Xiaoqian, vice minister of the State Council Information Office of China.

"The forum will surely serve as a window open to the outside world for Tibet and boost the friendship and mutual trust between China and Austria," he said.

He expressed his belief that the forum would significantly help the international community understand a true Tibet, boost Tibet's healthy development and modernization and cement the mutual understanding, friendship and cooperation between the Chinese people and the rest of the world.

The forum has drawn some 200 participants from China, Austria, several European countries such as Germany, Norway, Bulgaria and Greece, and international organizations such as the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

The forum is focusing on discussions on Tibet's development mode, Tibetology research and development, its cultural development and relics protection, education and Tibetan medicine.

(Xinhua News Agency, November 30, 2007)

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