Lhasa was the first major city in China to abolish the use of white plastic bags, said Qin Yizhi, vice chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region and secretary of the CPC Lhasa Committee. He met with a reporter from China.org.cn on October 18, 2007 and introduced Lhasa's overall development in the past years.
As an important water source for China and many other Asian countries, Tibet's environment is vital to the maintenance of river quality. But currently the region's ecology is fragile and in the past the general environment has always been frail. In the past five years the Central Government and governments at various levels in the Tibet Autonomous Region have made great efforts to preserve local environment.
In Lhasa, for example, the use of white plastic bags was abolished in 2004. As far as I know, we are the first city in China to issue such a regulation.
In addition, now in Lhasa, new construction projects must go through a strict evaluation first to check if they are energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. Unqualified projects are strictly banned.
With regard to current industrial enterprises in operation, relevant authorities have adopted a set of regulations in a bid to preserve this rare environment on the high plateau. For instance, since 2005, factories are allowed to discharge waste only after they have obtained a certificate issued by knowledgeable authorities. Currently, more facilities are being installed to treat garbage and domestic wastewater.
Abundant in solar power, Tibet enjoys longer daily sunshine than any other part of China, exceeding 3,000 hours annually in Lhasa alone. In the past, due to weak technological foundation, we failed to tap our solar power potential, but in 2007, we contacted the Beijing Heating Group and several other solar power equipment manufacturers in a bid to fully exploit our natural advantages.
The key to addressing problems in Tibet is to promote overall social development. Previously, some people thought that there was no need for Tibet to develop modern industry. On the contrary, we held that Tibet must embark on the road of industrialization, because industrial advancement is the major impetus for social progress. Having taken into account Tibet's special position in China's environmental protection drive, we will draw up development plans after careful deliberation. Measures will be taken to promote industrial programs that can obtain high economic return and make full play of local labor resources at a low energy costs.
The people's government of the Tibet Autonomous Region has made Herculean efforts to conserve our region's ecological system. It has appropriated large quantities of money specifically for this and is now trying to get more financial aid from the Central Government. In the following years, we will continue to safeguard and improve the ecological environment of the high plateau so as to help address environmental problems confronting the entire country.
Social situation in Lhasa
Now Lhasa is witnessing an unprecedented prosperity featuring fast economic development, rapid social progress and harmonious ethnic relations. People of all ethnic groups live peacefully and work happily.
Since 1989, the Lhasa municipal government has adopted several effective measures to curb secessionist activities, strike down upon criminal activities and properly handle conflict among the people. Social order maintains stable ever since.
In Lhasa, people of all ethnic groups live in harmony. In strict adherence to the Party's policy on ethnic and religious issues, the people's government of Tibet Autonomous Region and the Lhasa municipal government have made great efforts to improve people's livelihood by promoting economic development.
Given the fact that people of Tibet ethnic group make up some 90 percent of the total population in the autonomous region, it is normal that they also constitute the majority of Party membership at the basic level. Of all grassroots Party members in Tibet, 70- 80 percent are ethnic Tibetans while the rest are distributed in the Han and other ethnic groups.
In the past, due to a weak economic foundation, Tibet lagged behind the rest of China in social development. However, the region has always been a major concern of the Central Government. People of all ethnic groups from other parts of the country have provided us with warm assistance.
To date, a sound social security system has been set up in the autonomous region, covering various issues such as retirement pensions, medical insurance, worker's compensation for injury on the job, and unemployment insurance.
In farming and pastoral areas, a new type of free health care system is in place. Each farmer and herder enjoys an annual health care fund of 110 yuan (US$ 14.65), with 100 yuan earmarked by the government of the autonomous region and 10 yuan shouldered by the individual.
Handicapped by weak economic foundation and harsh geographic conditions, Tibet had long suffered poor educational development. However, remarkable progress has been registered all across the region in recent years. In 2003, Lhasa led the rest part of the region in eliminating illiteracy among young people. Since 2004, all children in Lhasa can enjoy China's nine-year compulsory education.
Lhasa is also the pioneer in Tibet regarding house reconstruction for farmers and herders. Since the project began in 2005, more than 30,000 farmers and herders have moved into new houses.
The major source of this reconstruction fund comes from government allocations, amounting to 15,000 Yuan for each household. Farmers and herders can buy new houses at low prices and if they wish, they can also get loans from banks. Moreover, people in the Tibet Autonomous Region cherish a long tradition of mutual assistance. Thanks to the efforts of the people's government and help from the neighborhood, the reconstruction project is now in full swing in Lhasa. Before long, more farmers and herders are expected to move into new homes.
(China.org.cn 17thcongress.org.cn by Chen Xia, October 20, 2007)