2. The local people's living standards have been greatly improved along with leapfrog economic development.
Before the peaceful liberation, the economy in Tibet was in a state of stagnation, and the masses lived in dire poverty. Since the peaceful liberation however, the economy has leaped forward with each passing day. To boost local economic and social growth, the central government has adopted a series of preferential policies for Tibet in such areas as banking, finance and taxation, investment, infrastructure construction, industrial development, farming and animal husbandry, environmental protection, education, public health, science and technology, culture and physical education, and has rendered Tibet strong support in terms of finance, materials and manpower. The central government has never taken a cent from Tibet, but constantly increased the allotment in the central budget for Tibet. In the period from 1952 to 2010, the central government sent a total of 300 billion yuan to Tibet as financial subsidies, with an annual growth rate of 22.4 percent. Over the past 60 years the central government has allocated more than 160 billion yuan in direct investment to Tibet and approved at different periods 43, 62, 117 and 188 major projects respectively concerning Tibet's long-term development and its people's livelihood. Highways, railways, airports, telecommunications facilities, energy and other key infrastructural projects have been completed one after the other, thus greatly improving Tibet's infrastructure and its people's living and production conditions. Statistics show that from 1994 to 2010 state departments, provincial and municipal governments, and state-owned enterprises involved in the paired-up support program launched 4,393 aid projects in six batches, with a total of 13.3 billion yuan in aid funds and 4,742 cadres from across the country dispatched to work in Tibet.
Thanks to the care of the Central Authorities and the support of the whole nation, Tibet has witnessed a historic leap in its economic and social development. From 1959 to 2010 fixed assets investment in the region totaled 275.1 billion yuan, registering an average annual growth of over 15 percent. The figure was 264.3 billion yuan from 1994 to 2010, and the annual growth rate in that period was more than 20 percent. The local GDP soared from 129 million yuan in 1951 to 50.746 billion yuan in 2010, a 111.8-fold increase or an average annual growth of 8.3 percent at comparable prices. Since 1994 the local GDP has grown at an annual rate of 12 percent, registering double-digit growth for 18 years in a run. During the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010) Tibet's GDP exceeded 30, 40 and 50 billion yuan successively. In 2010 the per-capita GDP was 17,319 yuan, and the local budgetary receipts reached 3.665 billion yuan, showing an average annual growth of over 20 percent for eight consecutive years.
There was no modern industry in old Tibet. But the region now has a modern industrial system covering over 20 sectors with distinctive local features, including energy, light industry, textiles, machinery, mining, building materials, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, food processing, folk handicrafts and Tibetan medicine. The total industrial output value increased from 1.4 million yuan in 1956 to 7.561 billion yuan in 2010, registering an annual growth rate of 14.1 percent. Competitive industries with local features keep expanding. The Gyama copper-polymetallic deposit in Tibet has been put into operation and gone public in Hong Kong. Some specialty products, such as Lhasa barley beer, "5100 Tibet Glacier Spring Water" and Ganlu traditional Tibetan medicine have entered the market in other parts of the country as well as the international market. Tourism in Tibet has also maintained a sustained and rapid growth. Some 6.8514 million people visited Tibet in 2010, and the tourism revenue reached 7.14 billion yuan. Tibet is set to be one of the most popular destinations for visitors from all over the world.
Tibet's energy, transportation and other basic industries are also flourishing. On the eve of Tibet's peaceful liberation, there was only one 125-kw hydropower station in the region, which supplied electricity only to a handful of senior officials and aristocrats. Now, an extensive energy system has been formed, with hydropower as the mainstay, backed up by geothermal, wind and solar energy sources. In 2010 the installed power-generating capacity in Tibet reached 974,000 kw, and more than 82 percent of the population had access to electricity. The Qinghai-Tibet DC Power Transmission Line is under construction, which will link the Tibetan grid to those of the rest of the country. In the old days there was not a single highway in Tibet. Today, a comprehensive transportation network has taken shape, with highway, rail, air and pipeline transportation as the backbone. All townships and more than 80 percent of the administrative villages in Tibet have gained access to highways, which now total 58,200 km. China's last "isolated" county is soon to be connected to the country's highway network with the completion and operation of the Galung La tunnel on the Medog Highway. The operation of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway ended Tibet's history of being without railways. The navigation lighting project at the Lhasa Gongkar Airport, and the Nyingchi Menling Airport, Ngari Gunsa Airport, Xigaze Peace Airport have been completed and put into use, allowing night flights into and out of Tibet and greatly increasing the number of air routes. An airport layout has taken shape in Tibet, with the Lhasa Gongkar Airport as the main hub, and the Chamdo Bangda, Nyingchi Menling, Ngari Gunsa and Xigaze Peace airports as the branches, catering to 22 domestic and international air services. In old Tibet, letters were carried by people or beasts of burden and relayed via posthouses. Nowadays, Tibet has entered the information age, having established a modern telecommunications network with cables, satellites and the Internet as the backbone. It has also realized broadband coverage in all townships and telephone communication in all villages. In the old days Tibet's agriculture and animal husbandry were completely at the mercy of the weather. Nowadays, modern facilities have been widely introduced. The added value of primary industry (agriculture) in Tibet increased from 128 million yuan in 1959 to 6.813 billion yuan in 2010, registering an average annual growth of 4.8 percent. Grain output rose from 182,900 tonnes in 1959 to 920,000 tonnes in 2010. Meanwhile the grain output per mu (15 mu equal one ha.) rose from 91 kg in 1959 to 357.4 kg in 2008, with the number of livestock rising from 9.56 million head in 1959 to 23.21 million head at the end of 2010.
Before the peaceful liberation, more than 90 percent of the people in Tibet had no private housing, nor had they enough food and clothing. But over the past 60 years the Tibetan people's living conditions have constantly improved. In 1951 the per-capita housing of urban dwellers was less than three sq m, but the figure reached 34.72 at the end of 2010. Since 2006, with the construction of a new socialist countryside and comfortable housing project underway, 274,800 households, comprising 1.4021 million farmers and herdsmen, have moved into modern houses, and the per-capita housing space has increased to 24 sq m in rural areas. The aim of providing farmers and herdsmen living in poor conditions with comfortable houses has been realized. Tibet has also improved its facilities in the areas of water, electricity, highways, telecommunications, gas, radio and television, postal services and the environment in farming and pastoral areas, giving rise to historic changes in these areas. The coverage rate of postal services in townships, that of highways in townships, and that of highways in administrative villages have reached 85.7 percent, 99.7 percent and 81.2 percent, respectively. The region has provided safe drinking water for 1.532 million farmers and herdsmen, and iodized salt for 91.2 percent of the residents in farming and pastoral areas. In 2010 the per-capita net income of farmers and herdsmen was 4,138.7 yuan, registering a double-digit growth for eight consecutive years. The per-capita disposable income of urban dwellers stood at 14,980 yuan.
Meanwhile, the consumption pattern of Tibetan residents is becoming more diversified with improvement in their livelihood, and such consumer goods as refrigerators, color TVs, computers, washing machines, motorcycles and mobile phones have got access to ordinary homes. A survey shows that for every 100 rural households there are 73.45 color TVs, 52.64 mobile phones and 3.98 private cars, and for every 100 urban households in Lhasa, there are 63 PCs, 182 mobile phones and 32 private cars. Radio, television, the Internet and other modern means of information keep growing with progress in other parts of China and the rest of the world. They have become an integral part of people's daily life in Tibet as well.