Marginalized in the Hinterland

'Go West', China's billion dollar investment in infrastructural improvements that recall centralized planning in China over 25 years ago, is not meeting its intended goal to help Tibetans and others in the hinterland.
September 21, 2003, 11am PDT | Connie Chung
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"The $3.2 billion railroad, connecting Lhasa and the neighboring province of Qinghai, is part of a massive investment designed to close a yawning--and politically dangerous--gap between China's rich coastal cities and poor hinterland. The 'Go West' program, launched four years ago, is boosting living standards in Tibet, 10 other Chinese provinces and Chongqing, a city whose administrative borders extend miles into the countryside....With its top-down mandates, 'Go West'— earmarking more than $85 billion for new highways, dams, bridges and power plants — recalls the central planning that characterized China before Deng Xiaoping embraced market mechanisms 25 years ago....Beijing's develop-the-west edict triggered an influx of Chinese businessmen, soldiers and prostitutes, trappings of a town on the make. Downtown, a shiny billboard advertises digital network connections. Scores of construction sites dot the city, even as women and girls spread grain on the road for passing tires to grind....Both the World Bank and Tibetan advocates say Beijing needs to focus more on schooling and less on pouring concrete."

Thanks to Connie Chung

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Published on Thursday, October 13, 2005 in USA Today
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