Lo­cals have high hopes for new city

China Daily (Canada) - - TIBET - By PALDEN NYIMA in Lhokha, Ti­bet

Na­tives of Lhokha pre­fec­ture in the Ti­bet au­ton­o­mous re­gion are hop­ing its el­e­va­tion to city sta­tus will bring with it more tourists and be a boon to the lo­cal econ­omy.

Lhokha was raised to it cur­rent sta­tus by the State Coun­cil in Jan­uary, and the el­e­va­tion cer­e­mony was held on May 27 — mak­ing it the fifth pre­fec­ture-level city in the re­gion.

Khe­drub, a mem­ber of the Na­tional Com­mit­tee of the Chi­nese Peo­ple’s Po­lit­i­cal Con­sul­ta­tive Con­fer­ence who serves as vice-chairman of Lhokha’s CPPCC com­mit­tee, said the new city’s prox­im­ity to the ad­min­is­tra­tive cap­i­tal of Lhasa would only help it to grow.

“Its eco­nom­ics, trans­porta­tion, education, and cul­ture are all ranked at the fore­front of the re­gion’s pre­fec­tures,” said the 58-year-old, adding that with this move Lhokha “will get more chances to pro­pose projects to higher gov­ern­ments” and will be able to “pro­vide more job op­por­tu­ni­ties to lo­cal res­i­dents”.

As a city, Lhokha will also be granted greater au­ton­omy over its own af­fairs and have the right to make its own by­laws, Khe­drub said, which will sim­plify ap­proval pro­cesses and re­sult in bet­ter work ef­fi­ciency.

“Many lo­cal res­i­dents will also be able to find jobs on con­struc­tion sites such as the Lhasa-Ny­ingchi Rail­way, which will cut through the city, as well as road and bridge projects,” Khe­drub said.

Other tourism projects, in­clud­ing new restau­rants, guest­houses and shops, are ex­pected to pro­vide jobs and gen­er­ate in­come.

“I hope the el­e­va­tion of the city will bring more tourists to our home­town, and I hope it will in­crease my in­come,” said Dob­gyal, a 49-year-old stall owner in Lhokha.

Khe­drub said the new pre­fec­ture-level city gov­ern­ment would be able to push ahead with in­fra­struc­ture con­struc­tion projects at Lhokha’s many cul­tural and re­li­gious sites, “which will at­tract more tourists in the fu­ture”.

Wang Youhua, a mem­ber of the Lhokha City Com­mit­tee, said un­der the old ar­range­ments, the gov­ern­ment had no lo­cal leg­isla­tive author­ity and was hin­dered in car­ry­ing out its ex­ec­u­tive func­tions, which in turn af­fected the pre­fec­ture’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

Zhou Yong, an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor and doc­tor of eco­nom­ics at the So­cial Eco­nom­i­cal Strat­egy In­sti­tute of the Ti­bet Acad­emy of So­cial Sciences, said Lhokha be­ing up­graded to city sta­tus was a good news for all.

“A city means a con­cen­tra­tion of res­i­dents, it has more author­ity to make it own de­ci­sions, and it is a new start­ing point,” Zhou said.

Lo­cated at an av­er­age al­ti­tude of 3,700 me­ters, Lhokha is known as the birth­place of Ti­betan cul­ture and is home to many firsts, such as Ti­bet’s first palace, first monastery, first cas­tle and first vil­lage.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Tourists en­joy the scenery at the Yardrok Yutso Lake, a fa­mous at­trac­tion in the newly el­e­vated city of Lhokha in the Ti­bet au­ton­o­mous re­gion.

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