Prosperity On the Plateau: From horseback to horsepower: Tibet has 650,000 vehicles

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Publish Time: 2021-01-13 Author: From: Xinhua

By the end of 2020, thanks to an improved transportation network coupled with higher incomes in Tibet, there were 656,703 registered vehicles and 613,682 licensed drivers across the southwestern Chinese region.

LHASA, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- Geisang has just bought a 230,000-yuan (35,512 U.S. dollars) Toyota SUV. The car means his 6-km commute in the city of Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, will now take just 15 minutes.

Photo taken on July 5, 2019 shows cars parked at a residential community in Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region. (Xinhua/Chogo)

Owning a car was once far out of reach for ordinary Tibetans before the peaceful liberation of Tibet in 1951, with car ownership limited to the privileged few. Back then, there were no concrete roads, and cars had to be disassembled and transported to the plateau on horses and mules' backs. After reassembly, the roads they ran on were little more than dirt tracks.

In the remote mountain village of Baka in Ali Prefecture, Soinam Doje, 66, recollects his youth. When he was little, to leave the valley his family had to row a cattle-skin raft across the Pagri River's rapid waters. After that, they had to walk; only rich people rode horses.

Today, every household in Baka uses a pickup truck to drive their flocks.

"I couldn't imagine that our once muddy legs would ever step on an accelerator pedal," said Soinam.

A car runs on the Duobu bridge in Nyingchi, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, Oct. 28, 2019. (Xinhua/Purbu Zhaxi)

Today, paved roads link Baka with other parts of Tibet, connecting it to a highway network that weaves 116,700 km across the southwestern Chinese region.

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