Beijing: The obscure birth place of the Dalai Lama in the mountainous region of northwest China is all set for a major makeover with the government approving a multi-million dollar plan to urbanise the entire prefecture.
The Tibetan spiritual leader`s village of Hong`ai, located in Ping`an county in Qinghai province, will soon become a city to be named Haidong and its former capital of Ping`an will be one of its districts.
The plan has been endorsed by China`s cabinet, state-run Xinhua news agency reported on Friday.
Starting from this year, the provincial treasury will allocate 1.5 billion yuan (USD 244 million) annually to boost Haidong`s infrastructure development, the local government said.
Among the new city`s key development projects are the renovation of old roads and residential areas, as well as the construction of new homes, urban boulevards, commercial centres, a sewage treatment plant and drinking water facilities.
The Dalai Lama, whose name is Tenzin Gyatso, was born in 1935 in a agriculturist family. At the age of two, he was recognised as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso and anointed as the 14th Dalai Lama becoming part of the pantheon of Tibet`s Buddhism.
His ancestral house remained there after he fled to India in 1959 opposing Chinese rule in Tibet.
The new Ping`an District is also home to a high-tech industrial base that features companies operating in the new energy, new materials and information technology sectors and has drawn 12 high-tech companies from China, the United States and Japan since it opened in 2012.
China asserts that the rapid development of Tibet is lifting the poor and backward areas from poverty while critics point out that the rapid urbanisation is brining more outsiders mainly, majority Han Chinese.
"The base is essential in accelerating infrastructure construction in Ping`an County," Ma Yingjian, a deputy official, said.
Haidong, located in east Qinghai, is an underdeveloped, predominantly agricultural area.
"It`s good to live in a city, where children can attend better schools and we can enjoy better medical services," Gonpo Tashi, a nephew of the Dalai Lama said.
"But my special mission has kept me here in the village," Xinhua quoted him as saying. Gonpo Tashi is the Dalai Lama`s only relative in China.
His desire to protect his uncle`s old residence was realised in October with a 2.5-million-yuan allocation from the central treasury, the report said.
The refurbished compound has retained its original look, but the ground is newly paved, beams have been reinforced and murals were repainted.