Ancient traffic hub in Tibet takes on new look

By: Zhou Tianyu,
Updated: Oct. 10, 2020

Changdu, an ancient city in east Tibet, is a key traffic hub along the Sichuan-Tibet Road. It is said that if you want to test your driving skills, just give it a try on the Sichuan-Tibet Road. That gives you ahintof how steep and perilous Chandu’s roads are.

In the past 70 years since the liberation of Changdu, the city has taken on a new look. It has not only established matureroad networks, but also witnessed robust industrial and e-commerce development.
In 1976, 19-year-old Gong Songge paid 4,000 yuan for his first car, a second-hand Jie Fang truck, and became the first to do transportation business in Gangtuo Village, Jiangda County. In the last 40 years, he shuttled between Lhasa and Chengdu countless times to transport rice, flour and other essentials. He’s the witness to the tremendous changes of the roads.
”When I started the business, the road was very narrow and I had to stare straight ahead all the time when driving, and the bumpy roads also damaged the tyres which had to be repaired twice a day,” said Gong. He was nervous and worried every time he had to drive across the Aila Mountain between Jiangda County and Gangtuo Village. Now, an over 4.8-kilometer-long tunnel has beenbuilt, which is safer and substantially cuts the traveltime. It used to take a week to get Lhasa from the village while it’s only a one and a halfhours’ drive now.
During the 12th and 13th Five Year Plan Periods, China invested 110 billion for the improvement of infrastructure in Changdu including the traffic and transportation system. A total of 18,360 km of ’roads has opened to traffic. In 1995, the Bangda Airport in Changdu was put into use and has fourdirect flights to Lhasa, Chengdu, Chongqing and Xi’an.
Wu Changli is taking samples at the vineyard of LuosongCiren. (Photo by Dai Ling/ Economic Daily)
In Naxi Township, Mangkang County, a vineyard is seen stretching toward mountains. LuosongCiren builds the first winery in Tibet. The ole brewing technique has come down several hundred years in Mangkang County. Luosongsaid: “The goal of setting up the company is to transform the brewing techniques into economic profits to help people increase incomes.”  The winery offers 700 temporary jobs every year and adds over 8,000 yuan to the annual income of employees.
In 2019, there are 11,700 hectares of land where grapes are grown with an annual output of 7,200 tons and anannual output value of 70 million yuan. The grapeindustry involves 9,720 people of 1,459 households with each person ‘s income increasing 6,018 yuan per year.
Villagers work in the salt pan. (Photo by Qin Haojun/ Economic Daily)
In Jiada Village of Mangkang County, there is a vast expanse of salt pan.With the old salt-making techniques, villagers have lived therefor centuries.In 2008, the salt bay technique was included in the catalogue of national representative Intangible Cultural Heritage items and has attracted more people to learn about salt bay culture. However, the salt industry here was once in a tight spot because of insufficient production and remote geographical location. The young girl ZhaxiLamu said:”To promote the old techniques, we have to come up with new ideas that go with the new characteristics of the era.” She began topromotesalt-making techniques through livestreaming. She also cooperates with salt-related health products companies to boost the added value of salt.
In Changdu, there has been 3 county-level e-commerce service centers, five O2O exhibition centers, 116 town-level e-commerce service centers and 15 e-commerce companies until now. The city’s e-commerce turnover reached 46.4 million yuan in 2019.