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Historic Tibetan City to Get a Contemporary Look

[Hindustan Times, India. (China Online) May 15, 2001.]

(17 May 2001) Lhasa, the capital of Tibet and a city with approximately 1,300 years of history, will be expanded into a modernized city that will combine high rises with the unique old-world ethnic characteristics.

The Chinese government announced Lhasa's modernization plans on May 15, reported the same day's Xinhuashe (Xinhua News Agency).

According to the director of the Lhasa City Planning Committee, the area of the city will be expanded from the current 51 square kilometers (19.69 square miles) to 72 square kilometers (27.8 square miles).

In the city's new district, no height restrictions will be levied on the new buildings to be constructed. The government will work hard to develop commercial and trade activities as well as a financial center with the goal of transforming Lhasa into a new, modernized city on the Plateau.

The director said that railroad transportation stations, marshaling stations and maintenance sections will be established in the new district. A second bridge will be built over the Lhasa River to connect the central city districts.

In Four Parts

The post-expansion Lhasa will have four subdistricts, distinguishable by their functions. They are expected to provide new vitality to administrative work, the financial industry, commerce and trade, cultural activities, education, tourism, daily living and transportation, the article said.

At the same time, the director said that as a city renowned for its historical and cultural legacies, Lhasa would intensify the preservation of the old city districts and impose strict height restrictions on the buildings within those districts. The Lhasa municipal government has even established specific agencies to assure the protection of the ancient buildings.

Built in the seventh century, A. D., Lhasa is a city well-known for its rich culture. Since the time king Srongtsan Gampo made Lhasa the capital of his regime, the city has been the center of Tibetan politics and culture as well as a sacred place for Tibetan Buddhism.

Since what the Chinese government calls the "peaceful liberation" of Tibet, more than 5.2 billion yuan (US$628.27 million) has been spent on various constructions in Lhasa to provide complete water, electric and waste management facilities. The average living area per person has reached 22 square meters (236.8 square feet), the article said.

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