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Official optimistic about development of Tibet despite financial crisis
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The current global financial crisis will have no serious effects on the Tibet Autonomous Region, though it will face some challenges, said a CPC official Monday.

Zhu Weiqun, deputy director of the United Front Work Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, said in an interview with Xinhua that existing industries in Tibet mainly serve the domestic market and their dependence on foreign market is low, while Tibet also enjoys strong support from the Central Government in finance and investment.

Zhu, speaking prior to the first "Serfs Emancipation Day" that falls on March 28 this year, said Tibet is yet to exploit its advantages in hydroenergy, mineral resources, agriculture, animal husbandry, and tourism to its full.

Zhu has visited Tibet many times. In 1991, Zhu made his first tour to Tibet when he was a correspondent of the People's Daily. Since then, he has traveled to the highland autonomous region for over 30 times.

"I saw encouraging changes every time I went there," he said.

The most moving scene in his mind, he said, is groups of Tibetan students going to school merrily.

From the healthy, red-colored faces of Tibetan children, one can see clearly a brighter future of Tibet, said Zhu.

The official, who has been responsible for talking with the Dalai Lama's envoys in recent years, said there was no modern school in Tibet 50 years ago, when Tibet was under the rule of the Dalai Lama and 98 percent of Tibetans were illiterate.

Currently, 98.5 percent of Tibetan children go to elementary school, 92.2 percent go to junior middle school, 51.2 percent go to high school, and 19.7 percent go to college and university. Schools in some inland provinces, municipalities and regions have opened special class for Tibetan students.

In recent years, a large number of newly-built Tibetan-styled houses have sprung up in Tibet, the official said.

The government has given subsidies, ranging from 12,000 yuan to 25,000 yuan, to help Tibetan farmers upgrade their houses and help the nomadic families to give up tents and move into houses. So far, 200,000 Tibetan families have moved into new houses with such help.

Zhu said departments of the central government, local governments of 18 provinces and municipalities, and 17 central government-administered companies have sent officials to take positions in Tibet at city or county levels to help its development.

Such measures not only helped to lift the economic strength of Tibet in a relatively short time, but also boosted economic and social links between people in Tibet and people in other areas, said Zhu, who is also a member of the Standing Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People's People's Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

He said this will produce far-reaching and profound impact on Tibet's future. Its significance is no less than economic achievements.

With the care by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, support from the whole nation and efforts of the 2.8 million people in Tibet, Tibet will advance in an even more steady way, said Zhu.

(Xinhua News Agency March 9, 2009)

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