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"Pairing-up" support program for Tibet reflects superiority of socialist system: Vice President

LHASA, July 20 (Xinhua) -- The "pairing-up" support program launched by the central government since 1994 reflects the superiority of the socialist system, said Vice President Xi Jinping on Wednesday.

Xi, who is heading the central government delegation to attend a series of celebrations in Lhasa marking the 60th anniversary of Tibet's peaceful liberation, attended a symposium on the "pairing-up support" program Wednesday and made a speech.

"Since the 'pairing-up' support program was launched, the related provinces, municipalities, central government departments and major state-owned enterprises have provided personnel, materials, financial and technological supports to Tibet, which have tremendously promoted Tibet's economic, social and cultural development," he said.

The program has enhanced exchanges and communications between people from inland provinces and people of all ethnic groups in Tibet, Xi added.

Xi said the Tibet Autonomous Regional Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the regional government have led the local people to make progress in all respects and safeguarded national unity, national security and ethnic unity.

He said that cadres who came from inland provinces to work in Tibet have made significant contributions to Tibet's reform, development and stability.

He stressed that the "pairing-up" support program must be further adhered to and constantly improved.

"Safeguarding and improving people's livelihoods should always be the top priority in the "pairing-up" support program," Xi added.

Looking to the future, he noted that more funds and aid should be given to the rural and pastoral areas, so as to improve the life and working conditions of cadres at the grassroots level and ordinary people alike.

The support from central government must be combined with the improvement of the self-developing ability of the region in order to tap its potential and expand the scale of cooperation, Xi said.

Also, the vice president said that cadres with promising futures needed to be involved in the "pairing-up" program to temper their wills, acquire more knowledge and enhance their abilities.

The central government plans to invest 138.4 billion yuan (21.38 billion U.S. dollars) in Tibet over the next five years to support the region's development and improve local people's lives.

The investment will primarily support 226 major construction projects in Tibet that will involve a total investment of 330.5 billion yuan, according to a statement issued Wednesday after a State Council meeting at which the plan was approved.

The projects will cover construction of facilities for the region's public services, as well as infrastructure such as railways, highways, airports and hydropower plants.

The investment will also be used to promote the region's local industries and protect the environment, the statement said.

Xi met with the leading members of the regional government, retired cadres, cadres sent to work in Tibet in the "pairing-up" program and representatives from all walks of life Wednesday afternoon.

Shaking hands with them, Xi lauded their efforts in building the new socialist Tibet. He encouraged people to make more contributions to Tibet's leapfrog development and lasting peace and stability.

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