Modernity, traditions make local lives better

By: China Daily
Updated: Oct. 17, 2022
Residents in Tuna township in the county of Dromo perform a folk dance to celebrate the completion of their new houses.
Residents shop using their smartphones, workers operate robots for manufacturing, farmers use smart greenhouses for growing vegetables and fruits and sell produce through e-commerce platforms. These scenarios constitute the modern face of Tibet, the plateau region that has long been renowned for its pristine land and traditional culture.
This transformation toward modernity, which is now embraced by many local residents, is driven by the fledgling but flourishing digital economy, represented by such sectors as big data, cloud computing, 5G communications and e-commerce.
One company backing such a transformation is Ningsuan Science and Technology Group based in Lhasa.
According to Jiang Ning, president of Ningsuan, the company now operates the largest cloud-computing data center in Tibet, serving tens of thousands of entities and residents.
"Big data centers are large consumers of electricity," Jiang said. "Lhasa's higher altitude and lower temperature can help our center save on operational costs substantially."
According to Hu Xiao, another executive of Ningsuan, the cloud computing center is expected to generate an annual business revenue of more than 10 billion yuan ($1.39 billion) upon the operation of its third phase.
"We will not only serve our clients in Tibet, but also those in South Asia," Hu said. "We will be an important link to support Tibet's strategy to become a regional hub for opening-up and cross-border trade."
With big data at its core, the digital economy is an important sector in driving Tibet's high-quality growth, according to local authorities.
The authorities proposed a plan last year to develop Tibet into a pilot region for high-quality growth by building an economy with plateau features.
The plan calls for the development of seven characteristic sectors that include cultural tourism, clean energy, clean manufacturing, modern services, plateau biology, cross-border trade and the digital economy.
While the digital economy presents the modern face of Tibet, cultural tourism aims to capitalize on the distinctive traditional culture and natural resources of Tibet.
The community of Tashi Choden, in Trandruk township of Lhokha city, is known as the "First Village of Tibetan Opera" in Tibet.
"Tibetan Opera and other forms of folk arts are part of our lives," said Nyima Tsering, head of the community. "And the centuries-old traditions are interwoven with our farming culture, with rich varieties of shows and rituals along with such activities as plowing, sowing and harvesting."
He said the township of Trandruk and its neighborhood are the origin of Tibet's farming industry.
"The Buddhist temple of Yumbulagang, which is several kilometers from our community, was the earliest palace of Tibet," Nyima Tsering said. "And a wall painting in the temple shows that it used to be the palace of Nyatri Tsenpo, the first King of Tibet, who developed the first piece of farmland here in Tibet more than 2,000 years ago."
"Performing arts like the Tibetan Opera have been with us for many centuries, bringing us joy and expectations," Nyima Tsering said. "But they've only recently become a stream of revenue as we've combined our cultural legacies with tourism."
He said Tashi Choden has quickly developed into a popular destination for tourists to explore the arts and history of the area as well as all of Tibet.
Tashi Choden has received more than 20,000 annual visits in recent years, according to Nyima Tsering.
Tashi Choden is just one of many successful cases in Tibet's booming cultural tourism industry.
Statistics from the autonomous region's department of culture and tourism show that Tibet received about 41.5 million visits last year. Tibet now boasts more than 300 destinations for rural tours.
The plateau biology industry is another sector that has seen rapid growth in recent years. It is regarded as a strategic emerging sector as it can offer strong support to the farming and animal husbandry industries, which are closely related to the livelihoods of many residents in Tibet, according to officials.
In the forests in Bomi county in southeastern Tibet, visitors might find some sign boards under the tall trees, reading "wild gastrodia tuber".
According to Dong Bing, an executive at Bomi Gaoyuanzang Tianma Industry, the sign boards mean that visitors are approaching the company's protection and research base of wild gastrodia tuber.
Gastrodia tuber, or tianma in Chinese, is a precious herb for making traditional Chinese medicines. It is also a popular food ingredient.
"It is rare to see the wild species of tianma in other regions of the country," Dong said. "But Bomi has rich reserves of the wild gastrodia tuber species, which now serve as a genetic bank for our breeding research."
"Since we have made breakthroughs in breeding research, the farming of domesticated tianma has grown in scale in Bomi," Dong said.
He said his company is operating about 110 hectares of tianma farms across four villages in Bomi.
"We harvested 90 metric tons of tianma from the farms last year," Dong said. "It is estimated that this year's output can surpass 150 tons."
According to the executive, the prices of tianma range from 900 yuan to 1,500 yuan per kilogram depending on the quality grades.
As the scale of tianma plantations grows steadily, more rural residents have been engaged in the industry and are securing more revenues.
A typical region of biodiversity, Tibet has rich, unique biological resources and thus has great potential to develop a plateau biology industry to suit local demands.
Local entities' research into breeding high-quality crops and animal varieties has helped to foster a variety of local agricultural brands like Yak of Nagchu, Apple of Nyingchi, Grape Wine of Markham, Vegetables of Panam, Kiwi Fruit of Zayul and Sheep of Gampa.