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Beijing boasts of 'leapfrog development' in Tibet

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The Dalai Lama says Tibet is “hell on earth,” but China’s central government is boasting that $45.4 billion in aid to the region over the past nine years has helped “boost Tibet’s leapfrog development” and achieve “lasting stability.”

The announcement came during a high-level planning conference on Tibet from Jan. 18 to 20, attended by Chinese President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.

Whether Tibet is currently stable now, or will remain so, is of course a hotly contested topic. In 2008, rioting erupted in Lhasa, Tibet's capital, after the arrest of Tibetan monks seeking to commemorate a failed uprising against Chinese rule. Last April, China executed two Tibetan men for participating in that riot.

But China is claiming phenomenal economic growth in the region. “Tibet has been able to maintain double-digit growth in terms of GDP for 17 straight years, outpacing the national average,” reports official Chinese news agency Xinhua. Tibet’s GDP was expected to top $5.85 billion in 2009, up 12.1 percent year-on-year and up 170 percent from 2000, according to Xinhua.

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