China unveils plan to develop Tibet
China has made plans to achieve leapfrog development and lasting stability in Tibet Autonomous Region in a bid to ensure China's development as a whole, according to a high-level meeting held this week.
Chinese President Hu Jintao and other senior leaders attending the fifth meeting on the work of Tibet, from Jan. 18 to 20, agreed that more efforts must be made to greatly improve living standards of the people in Tibet, as well as ethnic unity and stability.
In his speech, Hu attached great importance to the work of Tibet, saying it was a pressing task in carrying out the Scientific Outlook on Development, building a well-off society in an all-round way, establishing a national ecological protective screen and realizing sustainable development.
The work was also vital to ethnic unity, social stability and national security, as well as a favorable international environment, he added.
He urged all the Party members to further realize the strategic significance and pressing needs of the work of Tibet.
During the meeting, senior leaders also meted out plans to develop Tibetan-inhabited areas in Sichuan, Yunnan, Gansu and Qinghai.
The Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee's policies towards Tibet in the new era were totally correct, suiting to national condition, Tibet's actual conditions and the fundamental interests of people of all ethnic groups in Tibet.
With the arduous endeavor made in the past 50 years, especially after the launch of reform and opening policy in 1978, Tibet became better off but still faced difficulties and challenges.
Hu said the principal contradiction for Tibet, as for the country as a whole, remained to be between the ever-growing material and cultural needs of the people and the backwardness of social production.
However, Tibet faces a "special contradiction" between people of all ethnic groups and the separatist forces led by the Dalai clique, he said.
These contradictions had made leapfrog development and lasting stability major themes of the work of Tibet, he said
Hu said China would unswervingly adhere to and improve the Party's theories and policies towards nationalities, as well as the system of regional autonomy of ethnic groups in Tibet.
While vowing to take substantial measures to ensure "normal order of Tibetan Buddhism", Hu said the awareness of being part of the Chinese nation and being law-abiding citizens must be constantly enhanced among cadre and the masses in Tibet.
Hu asked to substantially prevent and strike "penetration and sabotage" by "Tibet independence" separatists, in order to safeguard social stability, socialist legal system, the fundamental interests of the public, national unity, and ethnic solidarity.
Tibet's development in next decade
At the conference, Hu outlined the guidelines for social and economic development of Tibet in the next decade.
He said by 2020 the per capita net income of farmers and herd people in Tibet should be close to the national level.
Tibet's capacity to provide public service and infrastructure must also be comparable to the nation's average by 2020, through more government investment and better management.
Hu said greater emphasis must be put on the improvement of the livelihood of Tibetan farmers and herdsmen, a better coordination of social-economic development, Tibet's capacity of self development, and environmental protection.
"Leapfrog development of Tibet actually means the combination of economic growth, well-off life, a healthy eco-environment, and social stability and progress," he said.
He stressed Tibet's significance in ensuring China's national security, and efforts in building the region into a strategic reserve of natural resources, an agricultural production base, a land with unique culture and a world-class tourism destination.
Hu said agriculture, animal husbandry, tourism, handicraft industry, and resource development would enjoy more support.
In order to further improve the livelihood of Tibetan people, more government budget will go to public services, such as education, medical services, telecommunication, and social security network that covers both urban and rural residents.
Other senior leaders attending the meeting included Wu Bangguo, Wen Jiabao, Jia Qinglin, Li Changchun, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, He Guoqiang and Zhou Yongkang.
Premier Wen Jiabao said priorities should be given to people's livelihood, social services, infrastructure, industries with regional features and environmental protection.
Speaking of education, he said free education would be offered for all the children of farmers and herdsmen in primary schools and junior and senior high schools.
The central government would preserve the consistency and stability of favorable policies towards Tibet and further improve policy support and financial investment in the region.
Wen pledged more efforts to cultivate talents for the development of Tibet, and encouraged other parts of China to provide cadre, talents, technological and financial support for it.
Milestone for Tibet
Jia Qinglin, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said the meeting would surely become a milestone for Tibet's development.
He called on authorities at all levels to translate the essence of the meeting into concrete actions.
Since 2001, when the fourth meeting on the work of Tibet was held, Tibet had made notable achievements in economy, environmental protection, people's livelihood, among others, President Hu said.
Ethnic unity has been enhanced and major successes achieved in the fight against separatist activities, he added.
The central government has invested 310 billion yuan (about US$45.6 billion) in Tibet since 2001.
The investment aimed to solve the bottleneck problems of the region and was mainly used to develop agriculture, animal husbandry, infrastructure, science and technology, education, governmental facilities and environmental protection.
Tibet's GDP was expected to reach 43.7 billion yuan in 2009, up 170 percent from that in 2000 and posting an annual growth of 12.3 percent over the past nine years.
Tibet witnessed the fastest economic and social growth and most significant improvement of people's livelihood in the past nine years, said Jin Shixun, director of the Tibet regional development and reform commission.