Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Monday, March 10, 2003

China Releases White Paper on Ecology and Environment in Tibet

The Information Office of the State Council published a white paper Monday to present the progress for over half a century and status quo of ecological improvement and environmental protection in the Tibet Autonomous Region, in a bid to clarify some people's misunderstanding and enhance their knowledge about Tibet. Full Text


The Information Office of the State Council published a white paper Monday to present the progress for over half a century and status quo of ecological improvement and environmental protection in the Tibet Autonomous Region, in a bid to clarify some people's misunderstanding and enhance their knowledge about Tibet.

The white paper, titled "Ecological Improvement and Environmental Protection in Tibet" consists of five parts, including "Progress of the Ecological Improvement and Environmental Protection Work in Tibet", "Ecological Improvement and Biodiversity Protection", "Ecological Improvement and Environmental Protection amid Economic Development", "Building an Ecology-Friendly Railway Line: the Qinghai-Tibet Railway" and "the Strategic Choice for Sustainable Development."

It is the fifth white paper on Tibet issued by the Chinese government since 1992.

The white paper says the Chinese government attaches great importance to ecological improvement and environmental protection in Tibet.

"For more than half a century, ecological improvement and environmental protection in Tibet, as an important part of the effort to modernize Tibet, has, together with economic development, social progress and enhancement of people's living standards, pressed forward and made great achievements," it says.

The old Tibet before 1950s had long been under the rule of feudal serfdom. With extremely low productive forces, it was, by and large, in a state of passive adaptation to natural conditions and one-way exploitation of natural resources, according to the paper.

The peaceful liberation of Tibet in 1951 initiated the process of scientific understanding, voluntary protection and active improvement of the ecological environment in Tibet.

According to the white paper, a series of comprehensive scientific surveys on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau have helped people to learn about Tibet's natural eco-environment in a more systematic and profound manner. As a result, ecological improvement work in Tibet began to make substantial headway and progress in a law-governed manner.

Eco-environment researchers have begun to monitor and trace the impact of human activities on the ecological environment, and resort to the media and schools to publicize education on environmental protection.

Concern from the central government and support from people throughout the country have enabled Tibet to embark upon a new phase in its ecological improvement and environmental protection undertakings.

Environmental protection departments throughout the country helped Tibet build environment monitoring stations, train technical and administrative personnel in the field of environmental protection, and formulate an ecological protection and pollution control plan.

The State Council drew up a separate plan to make the freeze thawing zone on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau one of the country's eight major areas for ecological improvement.

The central government held in 2001 the Fourth Forum on Work in Tibet which decided to further increase investment in ecological improvement projects in Tibet. From the perspective of attaining sustainable development in Tibet, it has been expressly stipulated that tourism and green agriculture be developed as the pillar industries for promoting economic growth in Tibet.

Statistics show that since 1996 the total investment by the central government in items concerning ecological improvement in Tibet has reached 368 million yuan (44 million US dollars).

At the same time, a number of major ecological engineering projects, such as natural forest protection, restoration of farmland to forest and pasture have been put into operation, which have effectively improved the eco-environment in Tibet, according to the white paper.

According to the bulletin on the eco-environmental situation published by the relevant State authorities in 2000, the environmental quality in Tibet is good, and most parts are basically in a primordial state. Tibet is one of the best areas in the world as far as natural environment is concerned, says the white paper.

The white paper says Tibet contains one of the five largest pasture lands in China and represents about one fifth of China's natural grassland.

Tibet has taken a succession of measures to strengthen the rational utilization and ecological protection of natural grassland, protect natural forest resources, carry out afforestation and improve the ecological environment.

The effective measures have increased its forest coverage from less than one percent in 1950s to 5.93 percent today and played a positive role in improving the region's ecological environment.

Tibet is characterized by poor water and soil conservation, vulnerability to serious soil erosion and sandstorms have afflicted the region throughout its history for being on the plateau.

In recent years in particular, the state and the Tibet Autonomous Region have increased their investment in soil erosion control. By the end of 2001, the State had invested more than 36.8million yuan (4.4 million US dollars) in Tibet and harnessed soil erosion on 1,166 square kilometers.

Projects to protect the natural forests and wetlands, and to build farmland into forest or pasture have been carried out on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River and the ever-expanding desertification threat was brought under control.

Tibet is one of the most typically biodiverse regions in the world and an important gene pool for the biodiversity of the globe, with one third of the land area in Tibet being nature reserves.

Over the past 50-plus years, the central government and the local government have conducted extensive surveys on Tibet's biological resources. They have worked out scientific plans and programs for the protection of wild animals and plants.

Over the past 50 years or more, not one species in Tibet has suffered extinction. Biodiversity is effectively maintained, and biological types are continuously enriched.

Rare animals that had not been seen for many years have returned to their habitats and about 80 percent of the earth's black-necked cranes are wintering in Tibet.

The white paper says in accordance with the latest monitoring findings, the environment of water and the atmosphere in Tibet are basically unpolluted, and most of its major rivers and lakes are in a primordial state.

The government of the Tibet Autonomous Region has endeavored to raise grain yield by improving the eco-environment for agricultural development. By 2001, agriculture in Tibet had had bumper harvests for 14 consecutive years, enough to make Tibet basically self-sufficient.

The state has invested a large sum of money on a series of comprehensive agricultural development projects in Tibet, which makes sure that while land areas are expanded, the ecological environment is improved at the same time.

Major construction projects, such as the comprehensive agricultural development project on the middle reaches of the "three rivers" (the Yarlungzangbo, Lhasa and Nyangqu rivers) with an investment of 1.2 billion yuan (145 million US dollars) from the central government, have resulted in good ecological results.

In addition, industrial projects are selected carefully and pollution prevention and control are strengthened in Tibet to ensure that the development of modern industry does not damage the ecological environment, the white paper says.

Meanwhile, Tibet has strengthened evaluation and management of the impact of resources development and major infrastructure construction projects on the ecological environment.

Much attention has been paid to the comprehensive treatment of the ecological environment in urban areas in order to improve people's living environment in areas with dense population.

While developing the tourism industry with relatively little impact on the ecological environment in Tibet, the local government has taken effective measures to avoid damage to ecological environment and environmental pollution arising from tourism.

Garbage bins have even been set up at the harsh Mt. Qomolangma mountaineering headquarters. Garbage left by climbers and tourists in collected, removed and disposed of periodically.

Building the Qinghai-Tibet Railway has been the long-cherished wish of people of all ethnic groups in Tibet. The white paper says that making the railway an ecology-friendly railway line was the goal set at the time the project was appraised.

Some 1.2 billion yuan (145 million US dollars) will be spent on environmental protection facilities for the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, a record sum in this aspect for rail construction in China.

The routes have carefully selected so that they would keep away from the major habitats of wild animals while many special bridges have been designed to prevent damage to grasslands and wetlands and reduce the adverse impact of the railway construction on the ecological environment to the minimum.

An environmental protection supervision system for a whole railway line was first adopted for the Qinghai-Tibet Railway to strengthen supervision and inspection of environmental protection to meet the protection requirements.

The while says for the past 50 years or so, benefiting from the concern of the central government and support from the whole nation, people of all ethnic groups in Tibet have pulled their full weight to five an earth-shaking new look to Tibet, and have made achievements in ecological improvement and environmental protection that have attracted attention worldwide, making Tibet a truly "Shangri-La."

The white paper says Tibet has a peculiar geographical environment and a fragile ecosystem. Therefore, it is an important part of Tibet's progress to modernization and a strategic choice for sustainable development that Tibet should protect the regenerative capacity of its natural resources, improve the quality of its ecological environment, preserve the integrity and self-adjustment ability of its natural ecosystem, and ensure the safety of the ecosystem and the harmonious unity and coordinated development of Tibet's economy, society and ecosystem.

Over the past five decades and more, the central government and the local government have made tremendous efforts to promote and develop the ecological improvement and environmental protection work in Tibet, and have made achievements that have captured worldwide attention.

The white paper says the Dalai clique and some international anti-China forces shut their eyes to the progress in the ecological improvement and environmental protection work in Tibet and spread rumors all over the world.

They want really nothing but to hamper the social progress and modernization of Tibet and to prepare public opinion for the political aim of restoring the backward feudal serfdom in Tibet and splitting the Chinese nation, it says.

The white paper says that there are still many problems in Tibet's ecological improvement and environmental protection efforts as mud-rock flows, landslides, soil erosion, snowstorms and other natural calamities occur frequently.

Those problems have attracted much attention from the central government and the local government of Tibet, it says.

The local government, supported by the central government, has set up and put into practice since 2001 a mammoth plan for ecological improvement and environmental protection.

From now until the mid-21st century, more than 22 billion yuan (2.7 billion US dollars) will be invested in over 160 eco-environmental protection projects aimed at steadily improving the ecosystem in Tibet, according to the white paper.

There is no doubt that the people in Tibet will create an even more beautiful environment and an even better life for themselves in the course of their future development, the white paper says.

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China to Issue White Paper on Environmental Protection in Tibet


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