Central government will invest more than 100 billion yuan (US$12.9 billion) in 180 projects in Tibet by 2010, the regional government announced on Monday.
Though it had reported five consecutive years of GDP growth of more than 12 percent, Tibet remained one of China's most underdeveloped regions due to its harsh natural conditions and a weak economy, and it relied heavily on investment, said Qiangba Puncog, chairman of autonomous region.
The projects, covering infrastructure construction, education, social security and environmental conservation, would promote economic and social development, showing the central government's support for the region.
Approved by the State Council, China's cabinet, in January, the projects would see 80 percent of Tibet's villages connected by road, safe drinking water for all its 2.76 million people and free education up to high school for all children, said Hao Peng, the region's vice chairman.
The funding would help pay for power plants and telecommunications facilities in remote villages and to protect natural forests.
The construction of the region's fourth airport in the northern Ngari Prefecture was also included, said Hao, but he did not elaborate.
"Most of these projects are designed to improve the living conditions of the people, especially farmers and herdsmen, and to help them share fruits of the reform and development in Tibet," said Hao.
The central government launched an aid program in Tibet in 1994, under which cadres from other parts of China are selected and sent to Tibet to work, and large sums are also invested in the region.
Puncog said the central government invested more than 63 billion yuan (US$8.13 billion) in large projects like the Qinghai-Tibet railway and infrastructure upgrading from 1994 to 2005 and aid from other provinces over the same period was worth more than 7.76 billion yuan (US$1 billion).
The annual GDP growth of Tibet reached 13.4 percent last year, bringing the region's total GDP to a record 29 billion yuan (US$3.74 billion) with the per-capita GDP above US$1,000. In addition, the annual per-capita net income of Tibetan farmers and herdsmen stood at 2,435 yuan (US$314) in 2006, an annual increase of 17.2 percent.
"We have set a target to raise the per-capita net income of farmers and herdsmen to the national average by 2010," said Puncog.
(Xinhua News Agency March 27, 2007)