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III. Economy

GDP: 39.59 billion yuan (2008)

Average GDP per capita: 13,861 yaun (2008)

GDP ration (1st, 2nd and tertiary industries): 15.3, 29.2 and 55.5% respectively.

Poverty alleviation plan:

In comparison with inland provinces, and coastal regions in the southeast in particular, Tibet remains an underdeveloped region, where there are still 210,000 people living in poverty, representing 9.8 percent of rural residents.

At the end of 1993, the national poverty relief program started with the goal of solving the food and clothing problems for the existing 80 million poor people throughout China in the remainder time of the 20th century. Tibet’s poverty relief program followed soon after, which required that governments at every level of the region pour all the financial, material and man power necessary in helping the 480,000 poor Tibetans get out of poverty in six years. The campaign worked smoothly with the combined efforts of the government and ordinary people. From 1994 to the end of 1997, the population in poverty dropped from 480,000 to 210,000, while the number of poor counties was reduced from 22 to nine.

Demographically, the poor population of Tibet is concentrated in three areas of the region — the northern foothills of the Himalayas, central section of Tibet where farming and pastoral areas meet, and the Hengduan Mountain Range in eastern Tibet. Because of the harsh environment for living and production, these areas are notorious for primitive living conditions, with the per capita net income of local rural residents being less than 500 yuan per year, far from enough for basic necessities.

This poverty relief campaign was designed to help the poor population by improving the living and production environment so as to create better conditions in which they could change their lives by their own efforts. Public projects were financially supported by government and participated in by the local people with labor work, which included improving and rebuilding farmland, grassland and irrigation facilities, developing forestry, fruit growing and processing, animal husbandry, and a Tibetan-style handicraft industry. Building primary and middle schools and opening technical training classes were also regarded as important measures.

In 1996 and 1997 alone, 246 projects were carried out with a combined investment by both the central and local governments, which totaled 410 million yuan. With these newly-built agricultural infrastructure projects available, 9,700 hectares of low- and medium-yield farmland were transformed into high-yielding fields, 4,000 hectares of wasteland reclaimed, 53,000 hectare of grassland built, and 62 ditches stretching for 700 km and 37 drinking water systems for human and animals constructed. These provided a necessary foundation for local people’s efforts to get out of poverty.

The majority of the Tibetan poor live in the areas with terrible natural condition, lacking arable land, grassland, water resources and suffering from frequent natural disasters. Hence, the final measure to wipe out local poverty may mean moving residents to other places with better living and production conditions. In Gyangze County, for example, the government has helped 41 households move from deep mountains to a development zone along the Nyang Qu River in recent years, where their food and clothing problems have been easily solved. While the government funded a major proportion of the moving expenditure, the households provided a small part. By 1997, the Xigaze government helped 326 households with 2,119 people to move, enabling 76 percent to quickly get out of poverty.

Recently, many rural Tibetans have begun attributing poor living conditions to their large families and have sought to local government for help requiring that the medical departments of the government provide them with contraceptives. In Rinbung County, a part of the county government’s poverty relief plan is to encourage later marriage, later child-bearing and healthy reproduction. In the past couple of years, along with moving out of poverty, the county has held its population increase under 12 per thousand.

While enjoying direct investment and loans rendered by the central government, Tibet will keep benefiting from a number of preferential policies. For example, Tibetan poor rural households are exempted from the duty to sell grain to the state; they receive subsidies regularly for purchasing chemical fertilizer, pesticide, plastic films for agricultural use and so forth; and the expenses for development projects in Tibet’s poverty-stricken areas are supported by government budget.

Besides, inter-provincial and inter-city projects aimed at helping Tibet will continue. For these provinces and cities, helping the target cities or areas in Tibet to get out of poverty is a part of their own economic and social development plan, so that they guarantee that people in the two places will walk hand-in-hand in striving for a better life.

Industrial output value: 4.662 billion yuan (2008)

Foreign trade:

By the end of 1998, the region’s total imports and exports stood at US$120 million. It has taken advantage of state preferential policies to actively expand exports of animal by-products, local traditional handicrafts and some other industrial products. State-run foreign trade enterprises have expanded their operations and border trade markets have developed. Presently, Tibet has become China's doorway to South Asian continues.

Foreign investment:

At the end of 1998, the number of registered foreign-funed enterprises totaled 74. Foreign investors came from the United States, Japan, Germany, Malaysia, Nepal, Macao, and Hong Kong.

International aid programs:

Since 1981, UNDP has provided US$ 4 million for the construction of the Yangbajain geothermal power plant. In 1989, UN's WFP provided financial aid for comprehensive agricultural development projects geared to drought resistance and prevention and improving irrigation conditions in the four counties of the Lhasa River valley, all of which has already been used. The UNICEF provided US$ 3.22 million in aid for ten projects including health centers for women and children. In 1995 the UNDP decided to provide US$ 822,000 in aid to four counties of Nyalam, Tingri, Dinggye and Gyirong in the Qomolangma Nature Reserve in western Tibet for projects involving agriculture, housing, school, wind power and household handicraft production.

Pillar industries:

Tibet’s pillar industries involve mining, farming, animal husbandry, traditional handicraft, forestry and tourism industries.

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