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More Tibetans Shake off Poverty as Economy Grows

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More than 1 million Tibetan herders and farmers have shaken off poverty as the regional economy has grown in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, officials said Monday.

"Tibet's poverty-stricken population has shrunk from 1.48 million in 2000 to 230,000 last year," said Tsewang Tobgye, director of Tibet's poverty reduction office.

Meanwhile, the proportion of Tibetans in poverty had fallen from 67 percent to 10.5 percent, he said.

In Tibet, the poverty line was set at 1,300 yuan (US$191) in per capita net annual income in 2001 and was raised to 1,700 yuan in 2006.

It was higher than the 1,196 yuan set for other parts of China, given the tough living conditions in the plateau region and the central government's efforts to foster growth in Tibet.

Last year, the per capita net income of Tibetan herders and farmers averaged 3,589 yuan, up 13 percent from 2008, said Hao Peng, vice chairman of the regional government.

"This particular group has reported a two-digit income rise for seven consecutive years," Hao said at a meeting on Tibet's economic development Monday.

Last year, Tibet invested a record 10 billion yuan to foster agriculture, improve social welfare in rural areas, as well as to subsidize rural education and rural consumption of household electric appliances, furniture and motor vehicles.

The regional government also spent 830 million yuan to foster eco-tourism in Tibet's rural and herding areas, said Hao. "The new industry has brought a 20-percent income rise and involved 42,000 people."

Tibet's GDP was estimated at 43.7 billion yuan last year, up 12 percent from 2008.

Meanwhile, the regional fiscal revenue maintained a 20-percent growth rate for the fourth consecutive year to top 3 billion yuan, said Hao Peng.

(Xinhua News Agency February 1, 2010)

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