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Tibet Aims the Best in the West

The Tibet Autonomous Region is aiming for a record gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate over the next five years to be the fastest growing region among China's western areas.

Legqog, chairman of the region, said that by reinforcing the agriculture and animal husbandry sectors and stepping up infrastructure construction, Tibet will register an annual GDP growth of 12 percent between 2001 and 2005 - five percentage points higher than the projected national level.

Speaking at the Fourth Session of the Seventh Regional People's Congress in Lhasa, Legqog said the centrepiece of the regional government's work was to do whatever it could to improve the income of farmers and herdsmen.

Under the regional government's five-year plan, farmers and herdsmen - which account for 85 percent of the region's total population of 2.6 million - are expected to see their income increase by 8.5 percent annually, and each of them will earn more than 2,000 yuan (US$240.9) a year by the year 2005.

The region will allocate more funds to develop transport, irrigation, energy and telecommunications over the next five years, Legqog said.

As well as upgrading the Gonggar and Bamda airports, the region plans to build four airports in Nyingchi, Lhasa, Ngari and in north Tibet, according to Legqog.

More than 3,200 kilometers of roads are expected to be built on "the roof of the world" by 2005, to link up 90 percent of Tibet's towns and 70 percent of its villages.

To ease electricity shortages, the region, which lacks coal, oil and natural gas resources, has decided to tap into hydropower, terrestrial heat and solar energy, so that power can be supplied to most of its remote villages.

Singing high praise for the central government and other regions and provinces for their help in developing Tibet, Legqog said the region's economic growth should rely on its unique industries, such as tourism, Tibetan medicine and organic food.

Over the past five years, 716 aid projects, costing 3.156 billion yuan (US$380.2 million), have been completed in Tibet, significantly bolstering the region's economic strength, Legqog said.

He said that Tibet, seen as a mysterious and adventurous paradise for many trekkers, would step up its efforts to attract more visitors from home and abroad.

(China Daily 05/14/2001)

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