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China to raise Tibet investment
BBC[Tuesday, March 27, 2007 20:17]
The railway, which opened in July, has helped open up Tibet
The railway, which opened in July, has helped open up Tibet
China says it is to spend $13bn on boosting infrastructure in the remote Himalayan region of Tibet.

The world's highest airport and an extension to a controversial railway are among 180 projects to be funded in the next three years, an official said.

The official said the aim was to improve the lives of Tibetans, particularly farmers and herdsmen.

But critics fear Chinese development is threatening both the delicate Himalayan environment and Tibetan culture.

Many opposed the opening of the railway line in July last year for fear it would make it easier to populate the region with Chinese migrants.

'Fruits of reform'

China's Xinhua news agency said 100bn yuan ($13bn) would be spent on 180 projects in Tibet by 2010.

The projects include a fourth airport for the region, in the western Ngari prefecture. At 4,300m (14,300 ft) above sea level, it would be the world's highest.

The money will also be spent on extending the railway line from the regional capital Lhasa to the second-city, Xigaze. Plans for the extension were first announced in August 2006.

Improvements to drinking water and electricity as well as education and environmental conservation are also planned.

"Most of these projects are designed to improve the living conditions of the people," the Vice-Chairman of the regional government, Hao Peng, said, "especially farmers and herdsmen, and to help them share the fruits of reform and development in Tibet."

Beijing has already pumped many tens of billions of dollars into Tibet, saying it will bring greater prosperity for its people.

But critics say China is simply wanting to consolidate its hold on the isolated region, and in the process destroying a unique culture and a fragile ecosystem.
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