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Tremendous Historic Changes Over the Past Half Century
Special> Tibet in 50 Years> Contents> Tremendous Historic Changes Over the Past Half Century
UPDATED: March 9, 2009 NO. 10 MAR. 12, 2009
Economy leaps forward
Thanks to the care of the Central Authorities and the support of the whole nation, Tibet has witnessed remarkable progress in economic and social development

Immense social changes have been made as the economy leaps forward with each passing day. To boost local economic and social growth, the Central Government has adopted a series of preferential policies toward Tibet over the past half century, and given it strong support in terms of finance, materials and manpower.

From 1951 to 2008, state investment in infrastructure in Tibet exceeded 100 billion yuan. In the period from 1959 to 2008, a total of 201.9 billion yuan from the central budget went to Tibet, an annual growth of nearly 12 percent, and 154.1 billion yuan in the period 2001-2008 alone. Since 1994, the Central Authorities have paired more than 60 central state organs, 18 provinces and municipalities, and 17 state-owned enterprises with the entities in Tibet, to help the latter's economic development. By the end of 2008, a total of 11.128 billion yuan of assistance funds had been put in place, 6,056 assistance projects launched, and 3,747 cadres from across the country dispatched to work in Tibet.

Thanks to the care of the Central Authorities and the support of the whole nation, Tibet has witnessed remarkable progress in economic and social development. From 1959 to 2008, the local GDP soared from 174 million yuan to 39.591 billion yuan, an increase of 65-fold or an average annual growth of 8.9 percent at comparable prices. Since 1994 the local GDP has grown at an annual rate of 12.8 percent on average, higher than the national average for the same period. Also, from 1959 to 2008 the per capita GDP soared from 142 yuan to 13,861 yuan, an increase of 13,719 yuan.

In the old times, there was not a single highway in Tibet. Today, a convenient transportation network has taken shape, radiating from Lhasa in all directions, with highway transportation as the major part and air, rail and pipeline transportation developing in coordination. In 2008, all counties in Tibet became accessible by highways, the total length of which reached 51,300 km, 44,000 km more than the 7,300 km in 1959; the volume of passenger transport increased by nearly 107-fold compared with that in 1959, and that of cargo transport by more than 11-fold.

An extensive energy system has been formed, with hydropower as the mainstay backed up by geothermal, wind and solar energy sources. From 1959 to 2008, electricity production in Tibet increased by 16.8 percent annually on average. Nearly 2.1 million residents, or 73 percent of the local population, now have access to electrical power. The use of clean energy is encouraged in rural areas, and methane is available to 43,000 households. Due to the rapid expansion of telecommunications, optical cables have reached all counties, and telephones all townships. Subscribers to fixed-line telephones and cell phones number 1.562 million, making 55 phones available for every 100 people.

In the old days, Tibet's agriculture and animal husbandry were completely at the mercy of the elements. Nowadays, modern facilities have been widely introduced, and the capacity to prevent and alleviate damage from natural disasters has been notably improved, with 36 percent of the contribution coming from science and technology. Grain output rose from 182,900 tons in 1959 to 950,000 tons in 2008; the output per mu rose from 91 kg to nearly 370 kg; and livestock on hand from 9.56 million head at the end of 1958 to 24 million head at the end of 2008.

There was no industry in the modern sense in old Tibet. Now, a modern industrial system with Tibetan characteristics has been put in place, with mining, building materials, folk handicrafts and Tibetan medicine as the pillars, and power, farming and animal product processing and foodstuffs as supplements. The industrial added value skyrocketed from 15 million yuan in 1959 to 2.968 billion yuan in 2008. Modern commerce, tourism, catering, entertainment and other industries that had never been heard of in old Tibet are now booming as primary industries in the region.

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