Beijing to invest 21b yuan for industrial development in Tibet

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 September, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 September, 2008, 12:00am

Beijing will inject 21.17 billion yuan (HK$24.2 billion) in the next five years to boost industrial development in Tibet in a further effort to consolidate its authority through economic support.

The investment, to be implemented in phases by 2013, is expected to bring job opportunities for nearly 15,600 people, the autonomous region's economic commission director, Li Zhen , told Xinhua yesterday.

Under the grand plan, 22 industrial projects would be launched to 'speed up development of other industrial fields and for the comprehensive economic growth' of Tibet, Mr Li said.

The programme includes 10 mining projects, five industrial development zones, four construction and building material enterprises, and three medicine and food factories, according to Xinhua.

'Industrial development in Tibet has remained inactive for a long time, and the sector accounted for only 7.5 per cent of the region's overall gross domestic product last year,' the report said.

Xinhua said nine of the projects had already been launched and 5.9 billion yuan would be allocated for the schemes by the end of this year.

China's rule in the region has been tested partly because the Dalai Lama remains a prominent spiritual leader among the Tibetans even after nearly 50 years in exile.

Despite Beijing's strong financial support and incentives to boost the region's economy over the years, complaints persist about suppression of religion and other human rights violations.

Critics say the rights violations, together with the failure to address Tibetan unemployment and other economic issues, were one of the reasons that the violent protests took place in March, although Beijing blamed the Dalai Lama.

Last month, the government announced that six more railway extensions would be built on the world's highest plateau, expanding the reach of the landmark Qinghai-Tibet railway, which began operations two years ago.

The railways are expected to help transport minerals. According to Xinhua's report yesterday, 15.9 billion yuan of investment will be used in the mining projects, and 3.45 billion yuan will go towards the industrial zones.

The Qinghai-Tibet railway has been attacked for damaging the plateau's fragile ecology and diluting the region's unique culture by bringing in large numbers of Han Chinese to live in and travel around Tibet.