Author Topic: China's Environmental Effort Brings Prosperity to Tibet Autonomous Region  (Read 3485 times)


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While the CTA is busy complaining about China's past human rights abuse, China continues to work to bring prosperity to Tibet Autonomous Region in a way that the CTA would never be able to deliver.


Environmental efforts improving lives in Tibet

State-financed ecological policies work in tandem with growing tourism industry to bring prosperity to the Autonomous Region of Tibet.

The Tibet Autonomous Region in Southwest China has been making great progress in preserving its environment and pursuing sustainable development in recent years. The autonomous region’s environmental protection efforts have won great support from the central government, especially after the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012.

Tibet should safeguard its ecological security and maintain its role as the country’s water tower, President Xi Jinping said at a seminar in January 2015, when he was talking to Nan Pei, Party chief of Tibet’s Shuanghu county. Ecological damage cannot be compensated with economic gains, he said.

Wu Yingjie, Party chief of Tibet, urged the autonomous region’s officials to bear in mind that protecting the environment is protecting productivity and improving the environment is promoting productivity. “We should guarantee that the green mountains, babbling brooks and fresh air remain in Tibet,” Xinhua quoted him as saying.

Located on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, Tibet has an average elevation of more than 13,125ft above sea level, meaning its ecological system is vulnerable and sensitive. Moreover, the plateau, home to a number of lakes and rivers that are the source of major bodies of water including the Yangtze River, has a profound impact on global climate.

In recent years, Tibet has issued more than 30 regulations that ban high-polluting projects, including those from the industries of steel, chemical and papermaking, from entering the autonomous region. The regional government has also tightened the approval procedure for mineral resource exploration projects and has included performance in environmental protection as criteria for appraisal of local governments.

Tibet should resort to a range of measures to control sources of air pollution, deal with desertification and better protect pastures, wetlands and forests, Mr Xi said at the Sixth Tibet Work Forum in 2015.

In 2009, Tibet launched an initiative to build a shelter for ecological protection. Since then, it has spent more than 7.1 billion yuan (£809.6 million) in launching 10 projects, including protection of pastures, wetlands, forests and monitoring environmental protection.

Shannan, Xigaze and other prefectures along the Yarlung Zangbo River used to suffer from severe sandstorms in winter and spring. In 2006, the autonomous region launched afforestation projects to deal with the issue. As a result, the number of days with disastrous sandstorms in the area has been reduced from 85 days in 2000 to 32 days in 2014.

Shilok Samdrub, deputy head of the forestry bureau in Shannan’s Zhanang county, witnessed the project’s development. People transported saplings to the bank of the river and took ferries to deliver the trees to the other side of the bank because there were no bridges on the river, the 45-year-old said. Nowadays, a shelter forest, measuring 100 miles long and 1.1 miles wide, has taken hold along the banks of the river.

During the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15), Tibet launched 38 projects to protect wetlands, covering an area of 16 million acres. The regional government built 73 security squads with a total of 780 members to protect the habitats of the autonomous region’s protected animals, including the Tibetan antelope, Tibetan wild donkey and wild yak, in the Changtang National Nature Reserve, the largest of its kind in China.

The population of the Tibetan antelope dropped significantly due to poaching. But, as a result of the protection efforts, the number of the species increased from about 50,000 to nearly 200,000 in the reserve in recent years. Meanwhile, the number of Tibetan wild donkeys in the reserve increased from about 30,000 to more than 80,000.

The picturesque Yamdrok Lake, one of the three holy lakes in Tibet, has been a tourism destination for a large number of visitors, both from home and overseas. In 2012, developers proposed the launch of a tourism service of cruising yachts on the lake. The government of Shannan prefecture, where the lake is located, launched an investigation into the issue and released a regulation that bans any business activities related to the lake.

Hu Weimin, Party chief of Tibet’s Environmental Protection Department, said: “Any project that undermines the environmental protection efforts will be banned, even if it generates more profits than a gold mine.”

At present, 70 per cent of Tibet’s territory, or 308,880 square miles, is banned or restricted from being used for development. The autonomous region has also built 47 nature reserves with a total area of 159,150 square miles, accounting for 34.35 per cent of the region’s territory.

Local residents with economic difficulties have also benefited from the environmental protection efforts. The regional government has hired more than 300,000 farmers and herdsmen as security staff to protect wild animals, with each of the residents earning about 2,000 yuan per month.

Paljor, a 58-year-old Tibetan owner of a seedling base, has sold millions of saplings to cities along the Yarlung Zangbo River, as well as other regions including Ali and Xigaze, over the past decade. Accordingly, the annual income of his family has increased to more than $10,000 (£7,732).

The sound environment in Tibet has also boosted the development of local tourism and brought plenty of job opportunities for local residents. Tsering Wangdu, a farmer in Dadong village in Lhasa, used to live on a meagre income from farming. The village’s infrastructure improved greatly after several rural tourism projects were launched, and the monthly income of his family of three has reached nearly 8,000 yuan during boom season, he said.

“Most areas of Tibet remain primitive, which should be attributed to the central government’s great support for ecological protection in the autonomous region and economic assistance from inland municipalities and provinces,” said Zhong Yang, a professor of plateau ecological studies at Tibet University’s School of Science.

Since the liberation of Tibet in 1951, financial subsidies from the central government have accounted for 95 per cent of the expenditures of Tibet’s public finances, according to statistics.

During the 12th Five-Year Plan, the central government allocated more than 10 billion yuan in subsidies for ecological protection in Tibet.

Xinhua contributed to this story.