The great efforts the central government of China has exerted to help Tibet develop its economy over the past decades have produced encouraging results.
From the urban areas to rural areas, and from government departments to temples, the majority of the 2.6 million people in the Tibet Autonomous Region, known as the "roof of the world" now have access to TV programs, radio services and electricity, and some of the Tibetans have bought their own cars, mobile phones and other modern telecommunications tools.
The central government and the local governments of other provinces and autonomous regions of China have given support to Tibet over the past several decades in the economic and technological sectors, which has laid a solid foundation for the economic development in the region with the most abominable natural conditions of the country.
Starting from 1996, the Chinese ministries and provinces have given free assistance to help Tibet build 62 key projects, which cover agriculture, animal husbandry, forestry, communications, energy resources, postal services and telecommunications. More than 70 percent of these projects are urgently needed in the region.
Construction of a group of hydro-power stations in the Shannan area and county level power stations around Tibet have brought the region's total installed capacity to 370,000 kilowatts and a generating capacity of 545 million kilowatt-hours annually.
The central government invested heavily in building airports in Lhasa and Qamdo, and the region has been linked by air routes with many domestic and international cities. The central government has also helped the region improve the highway leading to Nepal.
A modern communications network has taken shape in the region.
Currently, the total length of cables in Tibet is more than 4,000 kilometers. The cables have reached all cities and towns along major highways except those in the Ali Prefecture. All the counties in the region have access to program-controlled telephones and 92 percent of the region's counties are linked with the national automatic switchboard for long-distance calls.
The 62 projects are the largest group of projects aided by the central government and other provincial governments following the 43 assistance projects, with a total investment of 477 million yuan (US$57.46 million), launched in 1985.
The central government and other provincial governments have sent batches of officials and technical workers to work in Tibet. All these efforts have brought great benefits to people in Tibet.
The assistance projects have become a driving force behind the economic development in the autonomous region. A modern industrial system which combines mining, building, forestry and leather- making has taken shape and a group of promising industrial enterprises are emerging.
The total industrial value of the region has amounted to 1.365 billion yuan (US$164 million) in 2000, from the former 200 million yuan (US$24.09 million) in the early 1980s. A large group of name brand products such as motor cars, Tibetan medicines, Lhasa brand beer and mineral water have been exported to foreign countries.
Pillar industries including foreign trade, tourism and rural enterprises have sprung up. Statistics show that last year, the region registered a foreign trade volume of US$110 million, increasing by six times when compared with 1980. A total of 90,000 overseas travelers visited the region last year, bringing a revenue of 260 million yuan (US$31.32 million).
At the same time, the region has launched 299 cooperative projects with other provinces and regions of China, absorbing a total investment of 1.76 billion yuan (US$212 million).
Currently, the region has more than 20,000 water conservation facilities, and more than 70 percent of its arable land can be irrigated and is planted with improved crops. Bumper grain harvests have been reported for 11 consecutive years, with the total grain output reaching 850,000 tons annually, up from 180,000 tons over four decades ago.
Statistics show that the output of meat has risen to 127,000 tons annually from the former 15,000 tons before the peaceful liberation of the region in 1951. Over the past 22 years, a total of 660,000 farmers and herdsmen have shaken off poverty.
The assistance projects have changed the lifestyle for local people as well: in the regional capital Lhasa, residents can enjoy TV programs transmitted through various channels, farmers and herdsmen in remote areas of the region have access to electricity, local schools have tall buildings equipped with modern facilities, the children of farmers and herdsmen are studying at bright classrooms, and the Potala Palace is attracting numerous visitors from home and abroad.
Statistics show that from the early 1950s to last year, the state allocated more than 40 million yuan (US$4.81 million) in financial subsidies and to help Tibet build infrastructure projects.
Last year, the region scored a gross domestic product of 8.855 billion yuan (US$1.066 billion) and a revenue of 360 million yuan (US$43.37 million).
(People's Daily 05/26/2001)