Valuable Lessons from Tibet's Fight Against Poverty
China Today (English)|May 2021
IN 1951, when Tibet was peacefully liberated, the poverty rate in the region was as high as 80 percent. In the following decades, the Chinese government carried out a comprehensive antipoverty campaign in Tibet, leading to a steady decrease in the number of poor people in the region.
LI YUAN

The figure fell to 26 percent of local population in 2012, with 600,000 people still living in extreme poverty at that time.

Since 2012, the Chinese government has given top priority to targeted poverty alleviation by constantly exploring innovative approaches. At the end of 2019, the government of Tibet Autonomous Region announced that 628,000 people in 74 counties of the region had been lifted out of poverty, and their per capita net income had increased from RMB 1,499 (US $229) in 2015 to RMB 9,328 (US $1,426) in 2019.

The Tibetan people have now greatly improved their quality of life through the targeted poverty alleviation and eradication practice and vigorously implemented rural revitalization.

From Poverty-Stricken to Well-off

Because of its well-preserved indigenous ecological environment, Zari Township, located in remote Shannan City in southern Tibet, was selected to be part of the first batch of scenic spots promoted for tourism in Tibet. Zari, in spite of rich natural tourism resources, had previously been an extremely impoverished township that was overlooked by tourists due to its backward infrastructure, rugged roads, shortage of water supply, electricity, and housing.

Goinqog Qoizhoin, a native of Zari, and township head, has witnessed the tremendous changes brought about by poverty alleviation in her hometown. “Now the villagers have moved out of their dilapidated houses to live in the affordable modern housing, and every household has electricity. After an asphalt road was built between the county seat of Lhunze to Zari, the journey that used to take seven or eight hours has been reduced to only three hours,” she said.

In 2018, all farmers and herdsmen in Zari rose above poverty through employment in the agricultural sector and aided by state subsidies. Goinqog Qoizhoin led her fellow villagers to grow tea on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, with an average elevation of more than 2,700 meters above sea level, and helped them develop traditional industries such as Tibetan liquor, Tibetan incense, and bamboo processing.

“There are already more than 13 hectares of tea plantation in the township. The finished products of the first batch of high mountain ancient tea cultivated in 2020 sold well. In the future, we plan to expand the planting area annually,” said Goinqog Qoizhoin referring to the next phase of rural revitalization.

Tibetan liquor, usually distilled from fermented grains, is poised to harvest impressive economic benefits. According to villager Puncog Doje, a pacesetter of the village’s poverty reduction campaign, a rose hip wine developed this year has become popular among young consumers.

“Now Zari is a well-known prosperous border village with beautifully built houses, complete infrastructure and facilities, including a kindergarten and hospital, and the industrial park has started to help local villagers increase their income. This has motivated young people to move back to their hometown to live and work,” said Goinqog Qoizhoin.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pointed out that targeted poverty reduction strategies are the only way to achieve the ambitious targets set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

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