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China Headlines: Tibetans prepare to honor 50th anniversary of autonomy

LHASA, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- For the last few weeks, Lhasa's airport has been particularly busy as China's top level officials land in the plateau city to help plan its future.

Among them were Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang, several heavy-weight ministers who helped create special tax and investment policies for the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and officials from other administrative regions who were tasked with helping Tibet with their resources.

A week after Wang's visit, which focused on alleviating poverty, the city hosted a key central government meeting which helped establish a national strategy for Tibet's development.

As Tibet celebrates 50 years of being an autonomous region in September, the region is preparing for festivities as the people reflect on past achievements and develop visions for the future.


On the drive to the city from Lhasa's Kungar airport, hundreds of posters and taxis can be seen advertising the forthcoming celebrations.

Retailer Liu Tao looks forward to the "big occasion", hoping it will bring more business.

Liu, 38, spent the last decade earning a living by selling valuable Tibetan caterpillar fungus, believed to boost the immune system, at a supermarket in Lhasa, capital of Tibet.

A Vietnamese customer recently bought 10 packs of the fungus from her. "That was the first time I ever met a Vietnamese person," she said. "I hope more people will come to buy these Tibetan specialties."

A few blocks away, stylist Yeshe has his own wish as the celebrations draw near.

He used to bring in staff and products from neighboring Nepal through the Dram port, which was closed after it was destroyed by the earthquake in April. Dram is 750km southeast of Lhasa at the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains.

"People in Lhasa love natural dyes and other hair products. I hope the port will be open as soon as possible," he said.

Other residents, however, claim they have seen through the provisional nature of the celebrations.

"Tibet has had many occasions to celebrate. Just four years ago, we celebrated the peaceful liberation of Tibet," said jewelry dealer Drolma, near the Jokhang Monastery in Lhasa.

As Lhasa embarks on a new journey after 50 years of development, foreigners who have witnessed changes in the plateau city spoke optimistically of the future.

"Right after you land at the airport, you feel Lhasa (is) like a European city," said Dadhiram Bhandari, a Nepalese diplomatic officer who used to work in Tibet. He praised the effectiveness of the government.

"The Chinese central government and TAR government, dedicated to bettering the socio-economic outlook, infrastructure and livelihood for the people, have done a lot to improve the primitive living standard of Tibetans," he said.

"We have tremendous areas of cooperation to explore, learn and replicate in the northern part of our country," he added.


Celebrations will feature cultural activities like galas, meetings, exhibitions and publication of commemoration materials. The main event will be attended by central government officials.

"The celebration is an important occasion to showcase what Tibet has achieved in the past half century," Wu Yingjie, deputy Party secretary of Tibet, said at a meeting on Wednesday.

"Holding a grand and solemn celebration will inspire pride, unity and the strength to achieve more," he said.

"The celebration is important, not only for officials but for people of all ethnicities in Tibet. We should study the great achievements produced by enforcing regional autonomy and set out on a new journey to further develop Tibet," he added.

Also on Wednesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping underlined national and ethnic unity as the key plans for Tibet, vowing a focus on long-term, comprehensive stability and an unswerving anti-separatism battle.

"The key to governing a country lies in governing border regions; for that, we need Tibet's stability first," he said.

Analysts say Xi's remarks laid out a comprehensive strategy for governing Tibet, and the new guidelines will become action plans for Tibet in the years to come.

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