Table of Contents
Of development in a Prefecture
Lobsang Cheuda, Vice-Governor, Shannan Prefecture Government.
Lobsang Cheuda, a Tibetan who is a qualified accountant, is Vice-Governor of Shannan Prefecture. He briefed me at Tsetang, the capital of the Prefecture, and answered my questions. Excerpts from the briefing and interview:
SHANNAN Prefecture is situated in the southern part of Tibet. It is a valley between the Gangdise mountain ridge and the Himalayan mountain ridge. It is called the Valley of South Tibet. In terms of latitude, it is on average 3,700 metres above sea level
. Shannan is to the south of Lhasa, east of Xigaze. The total area of Shannan is 79,700 sq km. This Prefecture is composed of 12 counties. Tsetang, the capital, is the centre of the politics, economy and culture of Shannan Prefecture.
Lobsang Cheuda, Vice-Governor of Shannan Prefecture.
By the end of 1999, the total population of this Prefecture was 310,000. Tibetans account for 97.3 per cent of this. The proportion of the population engaged in agriculture and animal husbandry is 90.7 per cent. The non-agricultural population is 30,000,
accounting for 9.3 per cent of the total. Shannan is actually the cradle of the Tibetan nationality and the origin of Tibetan culture. It has the first palace in Tibet, the first monastery with Buddhist statues, Buddhist instruments and Buddhist monks,
the first farming land; it also had the first King and the first Tibetan opera.
From the rule of the first King, Nyatri Tsampo, to the 32nd King, Shannan remained the political, economic and cultural centre of Tibet. In the seventh century A.D., Songtsen Gampo established his dynasty here, moved the capital to Lhasa, and founded the
Shannan's importance also lies in its politics, economy, military, and also Yarlung culture, which combines literature, music, painting and medicine.
Economic development: After the peaceful liberation of Tibet, the people of Shannan, the people of various nationalities in this Prefecture, united and strove for the development of this Prefecture, with the care and attention of the Party Central
Committee and with support from people of various nationalities across the country, especially after the convening of the third forum on Tibetan development. The outlook of this Prefecture experienced great changes.
First, the national economy grew steadily. In 1999, the GDP of Shannan Prefecture was 830 million yuan, representing an increase of 36 times over 1959. Of this DGP, the share of the primary sector was 310 million yuan, representing six times the 1959 fig
ure. The share of the secondary sector, that is, manufacturing, processing plants and handicrafts, was 120 million yuan, which is 13,830 times that of 1959. The share of the tertiary sector was 400 million yuan, which is 128 times that of 1959. From thes
e figures, you can see that Shannan used to have almost no manufacturing sector before 1959. In 1999, the financial revenue was over 50 million yuan. The net per capita income of farmers and herdsmen was 1,377 yuan, which is 10.9 times that of 1959. Most
of the farmers and herdsmen have solved the problem of food and clothing and a part of them have started to live comfortable lives.
Secondly, there was overall development of the economy in the farmers' and herdsmen's areas. In 1999, the output value of agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry and fishery amounted to 530 million yuan, which is a 176.2 per cent increase over 1978. Food
grain output was 160,000 tonnes, which is a 4.3 times increase over 1959. The gross output of meat was 16,000 tonnes, which is 1.4 times that of 1975. The gross output of dairy products was 36,000 tonnes, which is a 7.6 times increase over 1975.
Thirdly, there was a steady growth in industrial production. Industrial enterprises are mainly located in Tsetang, and include power, mining, building material, timber processing, automobile repair and food processing. In 1999, the total industrial outpu
t value was 120 million yuan, compared with 1,000 yuan in 1959.
Fourth, the rapid development of transport, energy, telecommunications and other infrastructural facilities. In transport development, in 1999 the total length of roads from Tsetang to the 12 counties was 4,800 km.
As for the energy industry, before 1959 this Prefecture had no electricity. Now it has different grades of power plants. The backbone of the power undertaking in Shannan is the Vokkar Power Plant. The present installed capacity, that is the installed cap
acity of Grades II and III of this plant, is 10,400 kW. The total installed capacity of Grade I, which is under construction, is 20,000 kW. In addition, in this Prefecture there are 68 small-sized power plants at the county level. In 1959, there were har
dly any telecommunications in this area. But by the end of 1999, there were 324 long distance lines and a total provision for 6,296 telephone connections. The actual installed number of connections was 3,435. There were 2.69 telephones per 100 persons. O
ptical cable lines are available in all 12 counties of the Prefecture. In seven of these counties, equipment for mobile telephone services has been installed, and the remaining five will get those facilities soon.
Fifthly, rapid development of tourism. In 1999, 13,000 tourists from home and abroad came to Shannan, which was a 106 per cent increase over 1985. Among them, 7,000 were overseas tourists, which meant a 124 per cent increase over 1985. The total turnover
from tourism was 12.55 million yuan.
Sixthly, the acceleration of economic cooperation and collaboration. Great efforts have been made by Hunnan and Hubei Provinces to assist this Prefecture in terms of personnel, funds, projects and techniques. Between 1995 and 1999, 169 projects were unde
rtaken with the assistance of those two provinces, with a total investment of 260 million yuan.
On development of education, health, culture and other social undertakings: Since the initiation of social development was very late and there were not much statistics, it is difficult to compare the current situation with the pre-1959 situation.
We give the latest figures, that is, the figures for 1999.
(a) In the education field, a network for ethnic education has come into being at the Prefecture, county and township levels. A modern educational system with ethnic characteristics at kindergarden, primary, secondary and vocational levels has come into
being. The people have full access to education. By the end of 1999, there were 565 schools and various institutions of vocational training and sports in various forms and at various levels. Among them are 12 middle schools, 124 primary schools, one voca
tional middle school, one normal secondary school and another 425 small education centres. The total enrolment was 49,000 and the enrolment rate of children between the ages of seven to 12 was more than 93.8 per cent. The illiteracy rate decreased from 9
0 per cent (before 1959) to less than 20 per cent.
(b) As for medical care, there are now 106 medical units of various kinds in this Prefecture. There are in all 667 beds. The total staff in the medical field number 1,066, among whom the proportion of minority staff (dominated by Tibetans) is 92.7 per ce
nt. In this Prefecture, the life expectancy at birth of the Tibetan people has improved to 65 compared to 35 before Liberation.
(c) Constant development of ethnic cultural undertakings: Now Tibetan ethnic culture is in a period of unprecedented development. The Tibetan language and script have been put into extensive use. The state fully respects and protects the language and scr
ipt of the Tibetan people and all the laws, regulations, resolutions, official documents as well as newspapers and radio and television broadcasts must use two languages and two scripts, that is, Tibetan and Mandarin. A collection of Shannan folklore has
been published and more than 180 folk dances and songs have been recorded. To protect the ethnic cultural heritage, the state appropriated special funds for the renovation of the Samye monastery, the Tradrug temple and other monasteries and temples and
(d) Respect for religious beliefs: Our party's policy towards the religious beliefs of ethnic groups has been fully implemented. This is very conducive to the consolidation and promotion of relations among different ethnic nationalities, which are charac
terised by equality, unity, mutual assistance and progress. In 1999, in Shannan Prefecture, there were 6,296 ethnic staff members, who accounted for 83 per cent of the total staff. The freedom of religious belief is a basic right of the citizens in this
Prefecture and farmers and herdsmen have full access to this right. The existing places of religious activity are basically capable of meeting the demands of religious believers.
(e) Shannan Prefecture is a beneficiary of the national policy of developing western China. After this strategic decision was made by the Central Government, Shannan Prefecture, in accordance with the realities prevailing here and with a view to further
accelerating economic growth and promoting above-normal development, has decided to focus on the following: (i) Ecological agriculture; (2) Tourism; (3) Mining; (4) Tibetan pharmaceuticals and herbs. These have been stipulated as the four pillars of deve
lopment. Now we have selected 363 medium and long term construction projects over a ten year period, with a total investment of 27.31 billion yuan. Great changes have taken place since the peaceful Liberation in terms of social and economic development a
nd the development of other undertakings. But due to the limitations imposed by history and nature, the economic foundation remains rather weak. We also lack talented people, funds and techniques.
So, for these reasons, we take full advantage of the preferential policies of the Central Government towards Tibet and also utilise the opportunities opened up by the support of Hunnan and Hubei Provinces and the efforts of people belonging to various na
tionalities in this Prefecture to accelerate development and further improve the living standards of our people.
On the attitude of monks and Lamas: Ninety-nine per cent of the monks support these policies. They love socialist society and support the Communist Party. People are free to believe, or not to believe, in religion. The development of the economy a
nd the improvement of living standards in this Prefecture have been phenomenal. They are there for anyone to see, and this is very helpful.
On the influence of the Dalai Lama and his group: Their influence is very limited. Apart from particular places where publicity and educational work has not been fully carried out, their influence is minor. Only a small number of people are confus
ed. The Dalai Lama's influence is declining with the enhancement of our publicity and educational work. People can see the real picture. You can see that great, unprecedented changes have taken place here.
On compulsory schooling: Basically, six year compulsory schooling has been completed here and our performance has been certified by the Tibet Autonomous Region Government. A nine year compulsory schooling system will be adopted soon. Apart from ve
ry remote areas where the people's concept of education may be primitive, the majority of our people are very willing to send their children to school. We also promote educational sports to draw in all children. For standard primary schools, we have 40 s
tudents per class. For non-standard schools, we have seven or eight students per class.
On family planning and population policy: While formulating and adopting the one child per family policy, the state did not include Tibet. There are no such yardsticks for Tibetan people. Cadres from the hinterland, Han cadres, must observe the on
e child policy. But Tibetans are totally free. Of course, with the development of medicare and the improvement of knowledge, people are beginning to feel that it is no good to have too many children, that they must have fewer and better children. The ann
ual population growth rate among Tibetans in this Prefecture is 1.2 to 1.3. I would say that in urban areas, a family might have two or at most three children, and in rural areas three or four.