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article imageTibet’s unstoppable economic growth

By Bill K. Anderson     Feb 27, 2014 in World
Lhasa - China’s Tibet province reported a 12 percent increase in GDP on Thursday. This marks the 21st consecutive year of double-digit economic growth for the region, according to the regional statistics bureau.
The autonomous region in southwestern China known for its separatist movement and exiled religious leader, the Dalai Lama, experienced greater growth than the rest of China’s so-called “ethnic regions,” whose GDP increased by 10.7 percent on average. It also outpaced China’s average growth by 4.4 percent.
The Qinghai-Tibet railway completed in 2006, which connects the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, to the Qinghai province in northern China has aided the economy greatly. In 2005, 1.8 million tourists visited Tibet, but almost 13 million came in 2013. This dramatic increase in number of visitors following the construction of the railroad has resulted in a nine-fold increase in the revenue generated from tourism in Tibet, and has led to plans for two new railways. A line connecting Tibet’s two largest cities will be completed this year, and construction of a line connecting Lhasa to Nyingchi, close to the border with India, will begin shortly afterward.
Naturally, the increase in tourism has also led to the development of hotels, hostels, restaurants, breweries, taxis, and much more across the province.
Political tensions surrounding Tibet remain high. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang criticized President Barack Obama on Saturday for meeting with the Dalai Lama, an action that he interpreted as tacit support for Tibetan separatism. He also claimed that Tibet’s status as part of China is largely what has allowed Tibet to experience such rapid growth.
It remains to be seen how Chinese and international opinions toward Tibetan separatism will develop in the wake of Tibet’s position as an increasingly crucial part of the Chinese economy.
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