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Dalai Lama's hometown faces urbanization

(Xinhua)

16:37, May 17, 2013

HONG'AI VILLAGE, Qinghai, May 17 (Xinhua) -- The 14th Dalai Lama's birthplace, an obscure, out-of-the-way village in the mountains of northwest China's Qinghai Province, is now facing the dilemma of urbanization and an urge to maintain its traditions.

The village of Hong'ai, formerly known as Taktser, is located in Ping'an County in Haidong Prefecture.

According to a provincial government plan, the prefecture will soon become a city to be named Haidong and its former capital of Ping'an will be one of its districts.

The plan has been endorsed by the State Council, China's cabinet, but the provincial government has yet to announce an exact timetable.

Starting from this year, the provincial treasury will allocate 1.5 billion yuan (244 million U.S. dollars) annually to boost Haidong's infrastructure construction, the provincial government said Friday.

Among the new city's key construction projects are the renovation of old roads and residential areas, as well as the construction of new homes, urban boulevards, commercial centers, a sewage treatment plant and drinking water facilities.

The new Ping'an District is also home to a high-tech industrial base that features companies operating in the new energy, new materials and information technology sectors.

The Zhongguancun High-Tech Industrial Base, which was named after an area of Beijing widely known as China's "Silicon Valley," has drawn 12 high-tech companies from China, the United States and Japan since it opened last year.

"The base is essential in accelerating infrastructure construction in Ping'an County," said Ma Yingjian, a deputy official from the base's administration.

Haidong, located in east Qinghai, is an underdeveloped, predominantly agricultural area. Even its capital of Ping'an lacked decent roads, water facilities and electricity until the last two decades.

"China began boosting development in western regions starting in the late 1990s," said Sun Xiuzong, deputy chief of Ping'an County. "Today, the once bleak, underdeveloped county is closer to a boom town, with blacktop roads, tap water, electricity and telecommunication infrastructure."

Last year, Haidong's GDP totaled 27.4 billion yuan, nearly 27 times the 1978 figure. The per capita annual income of local residents averaged 5,352 yuan, 35 times the 1978 standard.

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