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China to Invest $13 Billion in Tibet over Next 3 Years


Chinese state media say the government will invest almost 13-billion dollars in Tibet over the next three years to upgrade the region's infrastructure and improve living standards.

The official Xinhua News Agency says the money will be spent on 180 projects in Tibet, including a fourth airport to be located in the northern prefecture of Ngari. Xinhua says the projects were approved by China's Cabinet in January.

The agency says Beijing's investment in Tibet also will include improvements to education, social security, and environmental conservation. It says one project aims to connect 80 percent of Tibet's villages by road, while another intends to provide safe drinking water for Tibet's nearly three million people.

Critics of Beijing's policies in Tibet say the new infrastructure projects are helping China's ethnic Han majority tighten control of the region and exploit its resources.

Xinhua quotes Tibet's vice chairman Hao Peng as saying the investments are designed to help farmers and herders enjoy the benefits of economic development.

Chinese state media have previously reported that the Ngari airport will be built 43-hundred meters above sea level, making it the highest in the world.

China's government opened Tibet's third airport at Nyingchi last September. In July 2006, China launched its first railway line connecting the rest of the country to Tibet's capital, Lhasa.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, xinhua and Reuters.

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