XII. Special State Aid for Tibet's Development
Known as the "Roof of the World," Tibet has quite harsh natural conditions. The region is more than 4,000 metres above sea level on the average. The air there is thin, cold and oxygen deficient and its barometric pressure and oxygen content are less than two-thirds of those at lower altitude plains. The duration of time with a temperature of above ten degrees Centigrade is less than half that in Heilongjiang Province in northernmost China. Only 0.2-0.3 percent of it is arable. Local economic development is slowed down by the plateau climate and geographic conditions. To change this backward situation and promote the common prosperity of all ethnic groups, the central government and the people of the whole country have offered great support to Tibet in terms of labor, materials, finances and technology as well as in policies, demonstrating their special concern.
Over the last four decades, state financial subsidies to the region
reached 15.7 billion yuan and investment in key capital construction projects
stood at 4.27 billion yuan, for a total investment of close to 20 billion
yuan. Apart from state financial subsidies and capital construction investment,
the region has received a multitude of special subsidies granted by ministries
and commissions under the State Council in accordance with Tibet's need
to develop various undertakings. Such special subsidies amounted to 5.9
billion yuan in the period of 1979-86. State financial input in the region
has increased by a substantial margin in the last few years and reached
1.7 billion yuan
To meet the Tibetan people's needs for production and subsistence, the central government sends large quantities of materials there every year, despite the long distance and poor transport conditions. From 1959 to 1991, a total of 1.388 million tons of grain, 2.815 million tons of refined oil and 4.58 billion yuan worth of manufactured goods, weighing over 10 million tons in total, were hauled in from the hinterland.
To aid economic and cultural construction in Tibet, the central government and other provinces and municipalities have pooled efforts together to build the Sichuan-Tibet, Qinghai-Tibet and other trunk highways that cross mountains 5,000-6,000 metres above sea level, a finished oil transmission pipeline from Golmud to Lhasa, the Yangbajain Geothermal Power Station and other large and medium-sized infrastructure facilities. To speed up construction in the region, the central government in February 1984 organized manpower and materials from nine provinces and municipalities in the interior to aid 43 construction projects in Tibet, the task taking more than one year. These projects, involving energy, communications, building materials, trade, culture, sports, education, public health, tourism and municipal works, covered a construction area of 236,000 square metres, involved a total investment of 480 million yuan and consumed more than 200,000 tons of cement, rolled steel and other building materials.
Tibet is in short supply of scientific and technical personnel. To solve
this problem, relevant government departments
All those who go from the hinterland to Tibet experience many difficulties. They have to make a major effort to overcome mountain sickness and extremely different customs and habits in order to adjust to life in Tibet. By responding to the central government's call to aid the Tibetan people, they show they are willing to work in the region and do not hesitate to make personal sacrifices. They go there for a fixed period of time on rotation in accordance with the stipulation of the central government.
The central government has introduced a series of more preferential economic policies and more flexible measures compared to those enjoyed by the interior provinces and municipalities in order to reinvigorate Tibet's economy and speed up economic construction there. Since 1980 agricultural and pastoral areas in Tibet have introduced diversified economic reforms focussing on household production. The policy is for farmers to cultivate land independently and for herdsmen to own the domestic animals they raise and conduct their own management, a policy which will remain unchanged for quite a long period of time. Farm and livestock products are sold mainly through the market. Farmers and herdsmen are exempt from agricultural and livestock taxes; collective and private industrial and commercial enterprises which produce and sell national necessities are exempt from industrial and commercial taxes. Farmers and herdsmen, individually or collectively, need pay no taxes for selling or exchanging their farm produce, livestock products or handicrafts. In opening up, the region implements a more preferential policy than other areas. It can retain all foreign exchange it earns from overseas trade and sell general imported products in the hinterland. Recently, the government of the Tibet Autonomous Region decided to set up foreign economic and technological development zones in accordance with the state policy on opening wider to the outside world; increase the number of open border ports; allow the foreign business people to lease land; and expand border trade with neighboring countries and entrepot trade.
Tibet started to implement the Eighth Five-Year Plan and the Ten-Year Program in 1991. To further accelerate Tibet's economic and cultural construction and attain the target of a comfortable lifestyle for most Tibetans, the central government will continue to offer great support to Tibet. State-invested projects in Tibet have been established and written into a development program. The construction projects include the following:
-- A project started in 1991 with a total investment of 1 billion yuan for the comprehensive development of the drainage area of the middle reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo, Lhasa and Nyang Qu rivers. The project is designed to turn the area into bases for producing commodity grain, non-staple food, light industrial goods, textiles, handicrafts and processed food as well as for popularizing scientific and technological research achievements.
-- A project with an investment of 800 million yuan to build the Yamzhog Yumco Pump-Storage Power Station, one of the state's key energy construction projects during the Eighth Five-Year Plan (1991-95). Upon completion in 1997, the station will help ease the power shortage in Lhasa and the surrounding area.
-- A project to rebuild the Qinghai-Tibet, Sichuan-Tibet, Nagqu-Qamdo and China-Nepal highways with an investment of over 1 billion yuan. The reconstruction of these four trunk highways designed to ensure smooth highway transportation began last year.
-- The expansion of the Gonggar Airport in Lhasa. The runway which was completed in September 1991 can be used by Boeing 747s and other jumbo passenger aircraft.
-- The construction of the Lhasa Post and Telecommunications Center, that entails the addition of 11,000-channel program-controlled telephone exchanges and 54 ground satellite stations in 47 counties, and other facilities.
The realities in Tibet fully show that the Tibetan people, who have
shaken off the yoke of feudal serfdom, now enjoy extensive human rights
which they have never been able to enjoy before. But their human rights
are not yet complete because of Tibet's backward economy and culture and
its harsh geographic conditions. Continuous and sustained efforts should
be made to improve the human rights situation. The Chinese government and
people are trying their best to accomplish this. However, the human rights
the Tibetan people enjoy
No plot to split China will ever succeed. The close relations between the Tibetan people and other ethnic groups in China have lasted for several thousand years. And Tibet has been unified with other provinces and autonomous regions to make up a unitary country for seven centuries. In such a long period of time, Tibet's relations with other provinces and autonomous regions have become closer and closer, and there has never been separation. This is by no means fortuitous. The fundamental reason is that unity or separation has a decisive bearing on the prospering or decline of the Tibetan, the Han and all the other ethnic groups of China. Unity spells common prosperity, and separation would mean peril to both parties. The long-lasting unification of Tibet with other parts of China is the inevitable outcome of a long history. So the Han people and other ethnic groups absolutely will not accept separation of Tibet from China, nor will the Tibetan people themselves.