China says 35% of Tibet Autonomous Region’s population is now urban

The Sanyou village in Chushul county. (Photo courtesy: Xinhua)

(, Aug13’21) – The urban population of Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) had risen from less than 70,000 in the 1950’s to more than 1.3 million by 2020, accounting for nearly one-third of the region’s population, with an urbanization rate higher than 35%, reported China’s official Aug 12.

Earlier, citing the population census report of the People’s Republic of China published on May 11, 2021, May 12 said the TAR’s population was 3.65 million, compared to Beijing’s official position that the region’s population was around 1 million in 1950.

The exile Tibetan position is that the population of the entire three traditional provinces of Tibet – of which the TAR constitutes about half – was around 6 million in 1950 and that over 1.2 million were killed or caused to die in violent repressions under Chinese occupation rule.

The Aug 12 report said the region had made historic achievements in urbanization over the past seven decades under what has been a Chinese occupation rule.

It cited official statistics as showing that by the end of 2020, the number of prefecture-level cities in the region had reached six, the total number of the region’s urban towns had reached 146, and the urban built-up area had reached 326 square kilometres.

It added that the region’s 14 counties, including the cities of Lhasa, Nagchu and the Senge Khabab township in the region’s Ngari prefecture had fully built out central heating coverage by 2020.

Before China annexed Tibet in 1951 under the euphemism of liberation, capital Lhasa was the only semi-urbanized town with a total urban area of less than 10 square kilometres and a population of more than 10,000, Jiang Yuexia, deputy head of the department, was cited as saying at a news conference Aug 12.

He has said that especially after China’s reform and opening-up policy in 1978, the Chinese central government implemented assistance to Tibet with the result that urban construction of the region witnessed rapid development, and the region’s urban roads, drainage system and public facilities had been continuously enhanced and upgraded.

“Greater changes have taken place especially after the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012. The pace of urban construction in the region has been accelerating, and a comprehensive transportation system between cities has been formed,” she was further quoted as saying.


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