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Monday, November 13, 2000, updated at 10:06(GMT+8)

Market Economy: Prerequisite to Tibet's Modernization

Development of market economy will help Tibetans hike up wealth and improve living conditions, said Xu Ping, an expert with China National Center for Tibetan Studies,

At a symposium on the campaign to develop the west China and modernization in Tibet and other Tibetan-inhabited areas, Xu said there is a noticeable gap between the economic development of east China and that of Tibet, so people of ethnic groups including Tibetan people should be encouraged to participate in market economic activities.

Gelek Gesang, also with the center, said market is a prerequisite to modernization in Tibet. In the past two decades, market has brought information, technology and talents to Tibet.

Gesang noted, "private economy will be the most dynamic factor of economy in Tibet, though the development of the private economy is at infant level in the areas inhabited by Tibetan people."

Experts attending the symposium pointed out the State Council stressed at a meeting on development of west China, held early this year, the necessity of studying new ideas under new situations in carrying out the campaign to develop the west, and the 15th Central Committee of Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee raised the concept of system innovations at its fifth plenary session, both of which have offered a theoretical basis for economic development in areas inhabited by the Tibetan people.

Before China carried out democratic reform in areas inhabited by people of ethnic groups in 1959, the broad masses of Tibetan people who have lived under a feudal serf system could not start large-scale economic and trade activities because they did not possess private property, said the experts.

After democratic reform, agriculture and animal husbandry have been Tibet's prime forms of production. Most local farmers and herdsmen kept the natural economy as their way of life. Only about 10 percent of farmers and herdsmen have been engaged in commercial businesses since the country started to open to the outside world in 1978, the experts went on.

Statistics show that the per capita net income of farmers and herdsmen in Tibet was 1,258 yuan ( about US$151.56) last year, accounting for 53.2 percent of the national average in China.

Professor Ran Guangrong with Sichuan University said with the prerequisite of having a public ownership economy as the main stay, a free hand should be given to expanding the private economy in Tibet and other areas inhabited by ethnic Tibetan people so that an overwhelming majority of farmers and herdsmen will be ushered in the market economy and eventually facilitate the development of China's west.

The regional economic development in west Chinese regions inhabited by people of ethnic groups is still at the primary stage of industrialization, said Ran.

He suggested that in areas inhabited by ethnic Tibetan people, where their economic foundation is weak, residents should try simple private economic forms, such as cottage industries, processing service of farm produce and sideline products, and family tourism services, to make money.

Ran added letting herdsmen to manage pastures on long-term leases would be good to solving the problem of raising too much livestock on a limited area of pastures, and contracting forest land to farmers would help raise the survival rate of trees and realize fine economic benefits in the long run.

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Development of market economy will help Tibetans hike up wealth and improve living conditions, said Xu Ping, an expert with China National Center for Tibetan Studies,

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