Ti­bet seeks GDP growth that is true to its na­ture

Re­gion looks to bal­ance ad­vance of econ­omy with en­vi­ron­ment

China Daily (Canada) - - TIBET - By HU YONGQI, ZHENG JINRAN in Beijing, and DA QIONG in Lhasa

As the lo­cal gov­ern­ment seeks to im­prove the wel­fare of its res­i­dents while also en­hanc­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, the Ti­bet au­ton­o­mous re­gion has up­graded its in­dus­tries to achieve low emis­sions and clean pro­duc­tion, top of­fi­cials said. Of­fi­cial statis­tics show Ti­bet has achieved dou­ble-digit growth in its gross do­mes­tic prod­uct for more than 20 years to reach 80.7 bil­lion yuan ($13 bil­lion) in 2013, a year-on-year in­crease of 12.1 per­cent. The cu­mu­la­tive fixed as­set in­vest­ment ex­ceeded 91 bil­lion yuan last year, a yearon-year in­crease of 29.4 per­cent. The an­nual per capita net in­come of farm­ers and herds­men reached 6,578 yuan in 2013, an in­crease of 15 per­cent year on year.

Last year, in­vest­ment from the cen­tral gov­ern­ment soared to 38 bil­lion yuan to support the fast-grow­ing lo­cal econ­omy, an in­crease of 30 per­cent, a re­port from the au­ton­o­mous gov­ern­ment said. Mean­while, lo­cal gov­ern­ment spent more than half of its bud­get to help im­prove the lives of res­i­dents, es­pe­cially those in pas­toral ar­eas and from dis­ad­van­taged groups. In the au­ton­o­mous re­gion, 2.3 mil­lion farm­ers and herds­men have moved into new homes thanks to an eight-year hous­ing project that was com­pleted last year. In ad­di­tion, 128,000 peo­ple were re­moved from the list of poverty-stricken groups in Ti­bet.

The re­gion has com­pleted a power sup­ply net­work that is now ac­ces­si­ble for all res­i­dents, es­pe­cially for farm­ers and herds­men in re­mote ar­eas. Ngari pre­fec­ture in north­west­ern Ti­bet has a pop­u­la­tion of about 70,000 peo­ple on an area of 340,000 square kilo­me­ters. It is too costly to con­nect fam­i­lies scat­tered sparsely at an av­er­age al­ti­tude of 4,700 me­ters to the power net­work, so the pre­fec­ture gov­ern­ment has pro­vided so­lar power sys­tems to all fam­i­lies, with which they can light their houses, cook food and power tele­vi­sions, said Phuntsok, deputy di­rec­tor of the stand­ing com­mit­tee of the Peo­ple’s Congress of Ngari pre­fec­ture.

How­ever, as other re­gions in China suf­fer con­stant air and wa­ter pol­lu­tion, how to pro­tect Ti­bet’s un­spoiled en­vi­ron­ment is a con­cern for lo­cal of­fi­cials.

Losang Gyalt­sen, chair­man of the au­ton­o­mous re­gion, has said Ti­bet has been try­ing to pro­vide res­i­dents bet­ter ed­u­ca­tions, more jobs, higher in­comes, sounder so­cial se­cu­rity and higher-qual­ity health­care while re­tain­ing the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment.

Con­se­quently, lo­cal in­dus­try has turned to sec­tors suit­able for the char­ac­ter­is­tics of the plateau, such as tourism, the bot­tling and mar­ket­ing of wa­ter, Ti­betan medicine, agri­cul­ture, an­i­mal hus­bandry and Ti­betan art­works.

Lhasa, the cap­i­tal of the au­ton­o­mous re­gion, con­trib­utes the most to Ti­bet’s GDP. Last year, the city in­creased its GDP to about 30 bil­lion yuan, about one-third Ti­bet’s to­tal. Zhang Yan­qing, mayor of Lhasa, said the city is con­cen­trat­ing on agri­cul­tural, clean and high value-added in­dus­tries.

Min­ing used to be a chief contributor to the fis­cal bud­get of Lhasa, Zhang said. How­ever, a land­slide that left 83 minework­ers dead in 2013 sent a clear warn­ing to ad­min­is­tra­tors, he said. There­fore, more fo­cus will be placed on sus­tain­able in­dus­tries, such as high­land farm­ing, yak and sheep breed­ing and bot­tled wa­ter pro­duc­tion. The Lhasa Eco­nomic and Tech­no­log­i­cal De­vel­op­ment Zone clus­ters bot­tled wa­ter fac­to­ries, high­land bar­ley wine and Ti­betan medicine man­u­fac­tur­ers, pay­ing taxes of about 2 bil­lion yuan each year, 40 per­cent of the fis­cal rev­enue of the city, he said.

Zhang said the au­ton­o­mous re­gion has an ag­gres­sive plan to pro­duce 5 mil­lion metric tons an­nu­ally of bot­tled wa­ter, which is highly pop­u­lar­ity in in­land re­gions such as Beijing and Shang­hai. Lhasa would con­trib­ute 60 per­cent of that vol­ume due to its con­ve­nient ac­cess to trans­porta­tion and hu­man re­sources, as three ma­jor routes in­ter­sect to con­nect the cap­i­tal city with neigh­bor­ing Qing­hai, Sichuan and Yun­nan prov­inces.

“Bot­tled wa­ter from Ti­bet sells at a very high price — 20 yuan a bot­tle, almost 10 times that of its peer prod­ucts,” Zhang said. “As long as we al­low for the high cost in trans­porta­tion and la­bor, the mar­ket shows great po­ten­tial for this in­dus­try.”

Zhang said all the re­gion’s in­dus­tries must be based on the eco-en­vi­ron­ment car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity of the plateau, where re­cov­ery from any dam­age is much slower than on lower land in China with higher tem­per­a­tures and shorter life cy­cles.

Bot­tled wa­ter from Ti­bet sells at a very high price — 20 yuan a bot­tle, almost 10 times that of its peer prod­ucts.”

The an­nual per capita net in­come of farm­ers and herds­men in 2013, an in­crease of

year on year. Con­tact the writ­ers at huy­ongqi@chi­nadaily.com.cn, zhengjin­ran@chi­nadaily.com.cn and daqiong@chi­nadaily. com.cn

6,578

ZHANG YAN­QING MAYOR OF LHASA

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