May 23 marks the 72nd anniversary of the peaceful liberation of Xizang. The region's GDP totaled 213.3 billion yuan (about $30.2 billion) in 2022, up from 129 million yuan in 1951.
"People's happiness is the ultimate human right, while development holds the key to delivering better lives to the people," Chinese President Xi Jinping noted in the letter to the "2023 Forum on the Development of Xizang, China," which opened on Tuesday.
From policy direction setting to personal inspection, the Chinese president has attached great importance to the development of the Xizang Autonomous Region.
Sense of happiness, benefit and security
In his letter, President Xi hailed Xizang for resolving the extreme poverty that had plagued the region for centuries. By the end of 2019, Xizang had lifted 628,000 people out of poverty.
"Xizang is at a new historical starting point of its development," Xi said during his inspection tour to the region in July 2021, where he highlighted the importance of high-quality development, saying it should serve ethnic unity and progress, help improve people's livelihood and build consensus as well as enhance people's sense of happiness, benefit and security.
Official statistics show that the total length of roads in Xizang has increased by 55,000-120,000 kilometers from 2012 to 2022, greatly improving local people's living conditions.
Thanks to the fast infrastructure development, Xizang has also seen rapid economic growth in the past decade. In the first quarter of this year, Xizang's GDP reached 57.587 billion yuan, an increase of 8.2 percent year on year – one of the highest in China.
The average life expectancy in Xizang rose from 35.5 years before the peaceful liberation to 72.19 years today.
In terms of education, the region has successfully implemented a 15-year publicly funded education system that covers kindergartens through high schools. Xizang has set up 3,339 schools, with a total of 922,000 students.
Highland of ecological civilization
At the seventh central symposium on Xizang work in 2020, President Xi expounded on "the guidelines for governing Xizang in the new era," with "prioritizing ecological protection" as an important part of the "10 musts" for advancing the region's development. He called for building the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau into a "highland of ecological civilization".
As a result, 11 national nature reserves, four national scenic spots, three national geological parks, nine national forest parks and 22 national wetland parks have been built in the region, with protected natural areas accounting for almost 40 percent of the region's land area.
To date, over 60 laws and regulations have been promulgated to protect the eco-environment in the region.
According to a white paper on Xizang's development, the central government had invested 81.4 billion yuan in Xizang for eco-environment protection by 2020.
In April, the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, also adopted a law on ecological conservation on the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau, which specifies requirements regarding ecological conservation and restoration, as well as ecological risk prevention and control in the region and provisions for dealing with unruly or uncivil travelers.
At the end of his congratulatory letter, Xi voiced the hope that on the new journey of advancing Chinese modernization, Xizang can fully and faithfully apply the new development philosophy on all fronts, step up efforts to promote high-quality development and strive to build a prosperous, harmonious and beautiful new socialist Xizang underpinned by unity, civility and modernization so that the people of Xizang can enjoy better and more fulfilled lives.