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A Millionaire From the Roof of the World

Dadeng, 65, of the Lopa ethnic group, now boasts family property worth more than 1 million yuan (US$120,000).

The Lopa ethnic group, with a population of 3,000, is the smallest among China’s 56 ethnic groups. Most of the Lopa people live in the Lopa Autonomous Township of Nanyi, Nyingchi Prefecture, in southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region.

During a recent visit to Dadeng’s home, Xinhua reporters saw that he is building a two-story building at a cost of 120,000 yuan.

Last year, Dadeng spent the same amount of money building a house for his son Daji. His family has four trucks, two tractors and a large threshing machine. Dadeng also has a pasture at the foot of the Himalayas, and he has hired two workers from neighboring Sichuan Province to graze his 100 yaks.

The Lopa people marched into modern society from slave society at the end of the 1950s. Before the peaceful liberation of Tibet in 1951, the Lopa people were regarded as barbarians by Tibet’s government, nobles and powerful monks. Most of the Lopa people dressed poorly and did not have enough food, but they had to work for their masters and had to pay exorbitant taxes and levies.

In Daji’s well-equipped house, the Xinhua reporters saw a fully-furnished living room, a China-made Changling refrigerator filled with beef, mutton and vegetables and a splendid chandelier.

A 29-inch Changhong TV set and a huge satellite television antenna on the roof of the house has shortened the distance between this family, which lived in caves and wooden shacks in the past, with modern civilization.

Last year, Dadeng and his family made more than 200,000 yuan from selling timber and grazing domestic animals.

Dabeng, an official of Nanyi Township, said that the township has more than 70 households, and a dozen of them have family property worth tens of thousands of yuan. In addition, the township now has more than 20 graduates of universities and polytechnical schools.

Nyingchi Prefecture has a large amount of timber reserves. Dabeng said that since the mid-1990s, the central government has invested heavily in the area and worked out preferential policies to help local people develop the forestry industry, allowing the Lopa people to fell the appropriate amount of timber. The central government has also helped the Lopa people build power stations and highways.

A five-star red flag, the national flag of China, is flying high over the courtyard of Dadeng. He said, “The flag was raised to commemorate Hong Kong’s return to the motherland.”

He added, “The Lopa people will forever remember the story of their change from ‘barbarians’ to humans.”

(People’s Daily 04/29/2001)

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