October 11, 2008 / 6:39 AM / 12 years ago

China sets plan to settle 470,000 Tibetan herders

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Authorities in the Chinese province of Sichuan plan to spend 5 billion yuan ($732 million) to settle 470,000 Tibetan herders in permanent houses, state media said, as part of efforts to promote the development of ethnic Tibetan areas.

Rioting broke out in ethnic Tibetan areas of the southwest province earlier this year after Lhasa, the capital of neighbouring Tibet, was hit by violent protests against Chinese rule.

Over the next four years, the Sichuan government will build brick houses and villages including primary schools, clinics and offices for the Tibetan nomads, Xinhua news agency said in a report on Saturday.

Of 533,000 herders in the province, 219,000 have no fixed residences and 254,000 are living in shanty homes, it added.

Provincial authorities also decided at a meeting on Friday to invite companies to design and make special tents and other goods to modernise the living standards of the herders, Xinhua said.

Xinhua did not detail how authorities would choose the locations of the villages or convince herders to move into them. Some ethnic Tibetans claim China has been trying to destroy their way of life as a people.

After a massive security operation to end this year’s unrest, during which 21 people were killed in Lhasa, the Chinese government has announced a range of projects to promote the economic development of ethnic Tibetan areas.

Last month, Xinhua said the government would spend $3.1 billion by 2013 on a series of industrial schemes in Tibet, including 10 mining projects and five industrial zones.

$1 = 6.83 yuan

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