V. The Strategic Choice for Sustainable Development
For the past 50 years or so, benefiting from the concern of the Central Government and support from the whole nation, people of all ethnic groups in Tibet have pulled their full weight to give an earth-shaking new look to Tibet, and have made achievements in ecological improvement and environmental protection that have attracted attention worldwide. Tibetan people today live and work in peace not only with a booming economy and developing society, but also with their landscape kept beautiful, their rivers kept clean, their animal species kept diversified, and their vegetation kept lush. Tibet has truly become a “Shangri-la.”
Rapidly shaking off its traditional backwardness and quickening its steps toward modernization are the natural requirements for the progress and development of Tibetan society and the fervent wish of all the ethnic groups in Tibet. Located on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, Tibet has a peculiar geographical environment and a fragile ecosystem. Therefore, it is an important part of Tibet’s progress to modernization and a strategic choice for sustainable development that Tibet should protect the regenerative capacity of its natural resources, improve the quality of its ecological environment, preserve the integrity and self-adjustment ability of its natural ecosystem, and ensure the safety of the ecosystem and the harmonious unity and coordinated development of Tibet’s economy, society and ecosystem.
Ecological improvement and environmental protection in Tibet cannot be achieved if development steps falter, but nor should we attain short-term economic development at the cost of the ecological environment. We can only follow the law of social development, attach equal importance to both economic development and eco-environmental protection, giving attention to protection in the process of development and seeking development in the process of protection, and implement the strategy of sustainable development. Ecological improvement and environmental protection should be done in an active, thrusting and dynamic manner, and not in a passive, conservative and closed-door way. We cannot refuse any interaction between man and natural eco-environment on the excuse of preserving the fragile primitive natural state, because this will hamper the economic and social development and the improvement of people’s living standard in Tibet.
The relationship between the exploration and utilization of natural resources and eco-environmental protection must be handled properly in the course of the modernization of Tibet, so as to promote changes in the mode of economic growth. It is clear from past experience in Tibet that the exploration and utilization of natural resources must follow the laws of nature, taking both long-term and overall interests into consideration, so as to avoid being too eager for quick success and instant benefits to the extent of over-burdening the ecological environment. A scientific attitude and methodology must be adopted in exploring natural resources and protecting the ecological environment. Natural resources that are not to be explored and used should be strictly protected, while the exploration and utilization of needed resources should be done scientifically with a definite goal, to prevent any unwanted impact on the ecological functions. Only in this way can the natural resources in Tibet be utilized rationally and scientifically, and can economic development and eco-environmental improvement be achieved simultaneously.
Tibet’s ecological improvement and environmental protection, just as its economic and social development, have a vital bearing not only on the fundamental interests of the people of all ethnic groups in Tibet but also on the common interests of the whole nation. People of all ethnic groups in Tibet are the major motivators and direct participants in the ecological improvement and environmental protection work in Tibet. They are also the main beneficiaries of a well-preserved ecological environment. Carrying forward such work will benefit both the State and the people for generations to come. Starting from the fundamental interests of the Tibetan people and the fundamental demand of the people of all ethnic groups across China for common prosperity, over the past five decades and more the Chinese Central Government and the local government of Tibet, in a spirit of being highly responsible for posterity and the world as a whole, have made tremendous efforts to promote and develop the ecological improvement and environmental protection work in Tibet, and have made achievements that have captured worldwide attention.
The Dalai clique and the international anti-China forces shut their eyes to the progress in the ecological improvement and environmental protection work in Tibet. They have spread rumors all over the world that the Chinese government is “destroying Tibet’s ecological environment,” “plundering Tibet’s natural resources” and “depriving the Tibetan people of their right to subsistence,” and so on and so forth, in order to mislead world public opinion and deface the image of China. Camouflaging themselves with pretensions of concern about eco-environmental protection in Tibet, they want really nothing but to hamper the social progress and modernization of Tibet and to prepare public opinion for their political aim of restoring the backward feudal serfdom in Tibet and splitting the Chinese nation.
It is true that there are still many problems in Tibet’s ecological improvement and environmental protection efforts. As the whole global ecosystem is deteriorating, the fragile ecology in Tibet is particularly affected. Mud-rock flows, landslides, soil erosion, snowstorms and other natural calamities occur frequently in Tibet and desertification is threatening the region’s eco-environment, compounded by man-made damage to the ecological environment as Tibet’s economy develops. All these things have attracted much attention from the Central Government and the local government of Tibet. In order to ensure the permanent stability of the ecological environment and natural resources and to guard against possible new threats to them, the Tibetan local government, supported by the Central Government, has set up and put into practice since 2001 a mammoth plan for ecological improvement and environmental protection. From now until the mid-21st century, more than 22 billion yuan will be invested in over 160 eco-environmental protection projects aimed at steadily improving the ecosystem in Tibet. There is no doubt that the people in Tibet will create an even more beautiful environment and an even better life for themselves in the course of their future development.