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Household Appliances Make Life Easier in Tibet

Sangmo, a retired Tibetan woman, is leading an easy life with the help of her household electric appliances.

Watching her son boiling milk in the microwave oven, she comments, "It is marvelous to cook meals without using a stove."

Her household electric appliances include a refrigerator, an air conditioner, a washing machine, an electric cooker and a dishwashers.

"I used to be busy the whole evening with cooking and other household chores after coming back from work each day and felt dog-tired at bedtime. Modern cooking appliances make it possible for me to spend more time on physical training and reading," she said.

According to a recent regional sample survey, there are 120 color TV sets for every 100 households in Tibet. Almost all households have at least one or two electric appliances. Over 95 percent of the 11,513 households in the Chengguan District of Lhasa, the regional capital, have TV sets.

Jamyang Gyamco, a research fellow at the Tibet Academy of Social Science, said, China's economic reforms have modernized the daily life of Tibetan people, making life easier for them.

Official statistics say the gross domestic product of Tibet rose 133 percent in the 1994-2000 period. The per capita disposable income of urban dwellers in Tibet surged 63 percent while that of rural residents increased by 94 percent. Economic growth paves the way for the acquisition of electric appliances by Tibetan families.

He also attributes the spread of electric appliances to the fast development of the power industry in recent years. By the end of 2000, 401 power stations had been built in Tibet with a combined generating capacity of 356,200 kw, and annually generating 661 million kwh of electricity.

However, the home appliance revolution in Tibet poses a grave challenge to its traditional handicraft industry.

Gaisang Puncog, who sells pottery near Potala Palace, says people no long use pottery for kitchen utensils. His products now sell well as indoor decorations or religious articles, with improved quality.

Rinzin, a farmer in Shannan Prefecture, who lives on the sale of wooden or bamboo butter oil barrels, has found it more difficult to keep his business going since people started using electric butter oil machines.

"I have to keep making new models and to meet the demands of different customers," he says.

Tibetans used to bring back goods when they travelled to other parts of China. It was common to see people carrying bags and suitcases while waiting for buses at Gonggar Airport after a journey from other provinces. Now the majority of people buy what they need at nearby department stores where many goods including Haier Brand refrigerators, Hisense brand air conditioners and TCL brand TV sets can be purchased off the shelf.

Name-brands are now shipped regularly to Tibet from all parts of China through national air and highway networks.

(Xinhua News Agency December 28, 2001)

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