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Lhasa, July 10 : From outside, the office isn't much to look at. Inside, the desk is shining, and Lin Chunfu is radiating success. Wearing shirt and necktie, well-groomed from top to toe, he looks like what he actually is - the owner of a business empire doing better for every year, with a turnover of billions of Yuan.

Ten years ago he came to Lhasa in Tibet for the first time, and immediately realised which possibilities he had to develop his business.

Lin, from the big city of Chengdu in the Sichuan province, is only one in the influx of Han Chinese entrepreneurs who have come to Tibet to make big money, and who are now making up new plans when the railway connecting Tibet with east and central China has opened.

"I have invested large sums in Tibet, but I have also made big profits. The future looks very bright," he says.

Lin Chunfu did not have to weigh pro's and con's for a long time before he decided to start his business in Tibet.

"I was one of the first big investors in Tibet. Tibet is a vast region, and has great mineral resources. Competition has been insignificant. Soon it will increase, but by then, I have already been here for nine years," he says.

He received financial aid by the authorities in order to open his business - an economical support he is still receiving, since the Communist Party in Peking wants Tibet to develop economically.

But according to critics, businessmen from the eastern parts of China are encouraged by financial support since China wants more and more Han Chinese to move into Tibet, to make it more "Chinese".

Why is it that Han Chinese, and not Tibetans, most often are doing big business in Tibet?

"That is due to tradition," replies Lin. "The Tibetans have no tradition of starting enterprises. Most of them are farmers; we Han Chinese are used to business."

He has been involved in the most diverse business lines imaginable, from restaurants, karaoke bars and preparation of wine to mining, and of course he has a finger in it when the construction boom has reached Tibet.

All these different enterprises show what is most important to succeed in business in Tibet: contacts. Which means it is not only a matter of tradition.

Chinese authorities prefer to engage Han Chinese companies when building up the infrastructure in Tibet. The Han Chinese firms first of all employ Han Chinese. The major part of the great sums annually passing from Peking to Tibet as subsidies, benefits a part of the population who has moved in to the region.

Lin's enterprise has currently 2800 employees. When the railway will be in full operation, he expects to be able to transport products in a larger scale, primarily metal and minerals, from Tibet to eastern China.

He warms to his subject - the development of Tibet, the railway, the roads, and the new houses with an altogether different standard from before.

"In the past, there were only a few TV sets, and power failures were common. Now, most families have their TV sets, and the failures occur only once or twice a month."

As for himself, he donates one million a year to road constructions, and plans to build high-schools so as to improve the quality of the education in Tibet.

He gives and takes.

Lin then elaborates on his belief that in ten years, Tibet's inhabitants can enjoy having improved their economical standard to the level where parts of eastern China are today - what appears like an utopia to an outsider.

Tibetan nomads and farmers still constitute three quarters of the population of 2.7 million inhabitants, and lead lives endlessly far away from the affluent lives led by Lin Chunfu and other successful businessmen in Lhasa.

Other Chinese settlers, such as the hotel receptionist Wang from the Henan province, have lesser aspirations, but are still seeing a future in Tibet. Wang has moved to Lhasa for the summer season to help his brother at his small hotel.

"Look at the sky and the clean air. The environment is the best thing with Lhasa, and the calm pace of life. It's more peaceful here than in eastern China."

But not all settlers in Lhasa feel comfortable. Taxi driver Li Yuhai from Shaanxi is homesick after three months. Old friends tempted him, saying that it you can make easy money in Lhasa.

But the taxi trade in Lhasa is very tough nowadays. A couple of years back, there were about two hundred taxi cabs in the town; now, 1300 cars are competing for customers. Almost all taxi drivers are settlers from outside, at the same time as the Pedi cab business is run by the Tibetans.

"Many people think that you just get here and pick the money. I regret that I came here. I have been robbed of the day's cash three times since I started. There are Tibetans who don't like us coming here. They think that Tibet is their country," says Li Yuhai.

Three quarters of the Tibetan population are nomads and farmers. But now, a steady stream of Chinese is coming to the country, attracted by the new chances of doing business.

Lin Chunfu came to Tibet ten years ago, and has built up a business empire with 2800 employees.