Ex­pec­ta­tions are climb­ing in the moun­tains of Garze

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE -

When I reached Sichuan prov­ince’s Ti­betan area, I was im­pressed by the blue sky and the typ­i­cal Ti­betan struc­tures. How­ever, my ex­cite­ment quickly made way for anx­i­ety when I got to a moun­tain­top 4,300 me­ters high.

The lack of oxy­gen and an acute re­ac­tion to the high altitude made it dif­fi­cult to breath.

Luck­ily I ac­cli­ma­tized to the altitude af­ter a day of travel by bus, and I could once again en­joy the beauty of the land.

I had been trav­el­ing in Garze Ti­betan au­ton­o­mous pre­fec­ture, which cov­ers more than 151,000 square kilo­me­ters of west­ern Sichuan. It is home to about 880,000 peo­ple, with al­most 78 per­cent eth­nic Ti­betan.

Yang­jen Drolma, 26, is an eth­nic Ti­betan who works at a lo­cal tourism of­fice. She told me she went to high school and uni­ver­sity in Chengdu, the pro­vin­cial cap­i­tal, where she had been given a Han name, Song Yu­jie. Af­ter seven years away, I asked her why she had re­turned to Garze.

“I may have more op­por­tu­ni­ties to get a bet­ter job in the big city, but I can en­joy the leisurely life­style and clean air here,” she said.

What she said re­flects the mind-set of the new gen­er­a­tion of Ti­betan young peo­ple in Garze. To­day, more are re­turn­ing af­ter years of study­ing in ma­jor cities to work in gov­ern­ment jobs or to start a busi­ness in a pre­fec­ture that has de­vel­oped rapidly in re­cent years.

Ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial data, last year the GDP here reached 46.5 bil­lion yuan ($7.5 bil­lion), a 4.2-per­cent in­crease on 2013. The pre­fec­ture has also in­vested more than 4 bil­lion yuan in tourist devel­op­ment.

Sichuan has been en­cour­ag­ing de­vel­oped cities to work with Ti­betan ar­eas. In 2012, the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment launched the Ti­bet-aid pro­gram, which in­volves seven cities help­ing 20 Ti­betan towns.

By the end of last year, ap­pli­ca­tions had been made for more than 463 projects, with a com­bined in­vest­ment of 2.584 bil­lion yuan. A to­tal of 3,667 city cadres have also been as­signed to work in Ti­betan ar­eas for two years, putting to use their ad­vanced man­age­ment ex­pe­ri­ence.

Luo Yixue worked as a gov­ern­ment tourist of­fi­cial in a small town near Chengdu be­fore he was sent to Daofu, in Garze. He is now deputy direc­tor of the Luhuo Tourist and Cul­ture Bureau.

As a Han cadre, he said ev­ery­thing was dif­fi­cult at first due to the cul­tural gaps.

“My wife and my 2-year-old daugh­ter still live in Chengdu, but my fam­ily have given me their full sup­port for my Ti­bet-aid ca­reer, which I ap­pre­ci­ate a lot,” he said. “I have stayed in Daofu for a year, and now lo­cal Ti­betans treat me as a rel­a­tive.

“I’m con­fi­dent I can do a good job in my sec­ond year,” the 30-year-old added with a smile.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.