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China to spend 200 b yuan to improve roads in major Tibetan-populated province

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-04-11 16:54

XINING -- Northwest China's Qinghai province will spend 200 billion yuan (about $29 billion) in the next five years to improve roads in its vast Tibetan-populated areas, according to local authorities.

The province, with 90 percent of its land inhabited by Tibetans, is home to more than 20 percent of China's total Tibetan population, according to a government census.

At an average altitude of 3,000 meters, the province has large areas of frozen soil and mountainous landscape that have restrained road construction on the plateau.

The provincial government spent 38.8 billion yuan on transport in 2016 and annual investment is set to increase in the next five years, according to the provincial department of transport.

The money will be primarily used for improving road quality and building extensive road network.

"Muddy lanes, instead of concrete roads, still exist in some of the townships, and roads haven't reached some remote villages," said Wang Xiaoli, an official with Qinghai department of transport.

"By 2020, the government plans to add 10,000 kilometers of roads connecting all the villages and townships in the province and renovate many of the provincial and national highways," Wang said. "Rough roads, dead end highways, and narrow mountain roads, which are often seen at the boundaries of different Tibetan settlements, are among the top priorities in the renovation."

"Better road networks and road quality can facilitate exchanges between local regions and surrounding provinces, which will help more people shake off poverty," said Ma Jixiao, head of the department.

China has pushed for better transport infrastructure in Tibetan areas over recent years. From 2011 to 2015, China spent 2.7 trillion yuan in 127 key projects in the west, with 12,000 km of railways and 215,000 km of highways built, according to the National Development and Reform Commission.

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