The above quote1 is typical of official descriptions oflife in contemporary Tibet, thanking the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and government of the People's Republic of China (PRC) for the prosperity they have brought to the region. In other venues, however, neither party nor government would deny that accomplishments have fallen far short of aspirations. Although the Chinese name for Tibet, Xizang, means "western storehouse," it is by far the poorest area under the jurisdiction of the PRC. Even a cursory glance at the Statistical Yearbook of China will confirm that the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) ranks last on virtually every indicator: total revenue, taxes remitted, per capita income, joint
ventures, literacy, and even life expectancy at birth. Notwithstanding Tibet's daunting climate, which includes extreme cold and wind as well as aridity and thin air, the region does not Jack natural resources. The gold-bearing sands of cultural Tibet have been renowned for centuries. Less well known are the area's other rare metals, including lithium, lead, antimony, and, it is rumored, uranium. There are also coal deposits and an abundance of salt. Additionally, the region has received generous subsidies from the central government, exceeding those given to any other province or autonomous region.