A developing industrial city in eastern Tibet, Bayi Town is the site of the Nyingchi government. It is located in Nyingchi County, at 2,900 meters above sea level, and is surrounded by green mountains, with abundant rain and a pleasant climate. The Nyang River flows south of the town. Formerly named "Lhabagar," before the 1960s Bayi Town was a desolate flood land where wild animals lived; the town had two small temples and scores of households. The residents used to engage in simple farming and husbandry. Later, to commemorate the People's Liberation Army's contribution to the construction of the "Lhabagar" town, it was renamed Bayi Town. Gradually, the place developed into a small town with a wool mill, a power plant, a timber mill, a paper mill, a building material factory, a printing house and other factories, as well as a hospital, a school and a bank. But it remained a quiet, small town until a decade ago, when it began to develop faster than ever. Now the formerly sparsely populated small town has become a thriving new town in the forest zone with a population of 14,000.
An industrial town rarely seen on the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau, Bayi Town is a base for wool and timber production in the Tibetan Autonomous Region, and has contributed much to Tibet's economic development. The Nyingchi Woolen Mill and its products are well known in and out of Tibet. The mill was set up in the late 1960s, and originally had about 800 workers, with an annual output of 60,000 meters of woolen cloth. At present, the mill has seven workshops, over 1,600 workers and produces not only woolen cloth but also knitting wool and carpets, with an annual output of 400,000 meters of woolen cloth, 400,000 kg of knitting wool and 20,000 carpets. Its products are popular among foreign traders at the Guangzhou Trading Fair. Since its founding, it has reached a gross production of 270 million yuan RMB. Papermaking and comprehensive timber processing, using wood as raw material, have also been developed greatly, but they still have a long way to go before becoming industrial systems.
Bayi Town has become an important town along the Sichuan-Tibetan Highway, being a comprehensive distribution and exchange center for labor, farm produce, industrial materials and consumer goods. The focus of the development of Bayi Town is a diversified economy. Nyingchi now has scores of enterprises, such as road transportation companies, architectural machinery plants, timber processing factories and medicine companies, with the Nyingchi woolen mill as the backbone.
Bayi Town has an advantageous location, with transport facilities to Chengdu in the east, Shannan in the south and Lhasa in the north. The trucks shuttling along the Sichuan-Tibetan Highway carry to Bayi Town fashionable domestic appliances, dresses and other goods, while farmers and herdsmen from adjacent counties such as Gongbo'gyamda, Medog, Bome, Mainling and Nang sell pulu, jewelry, Tibetan knives, kardian and other local handicrafts in the town streets.Strolling in the streets and alleys of Bayi Town, one can see many tall buildings, shops with a great variety of goods, and bustling markets, and feel the town's prosperity.Roads paved with oval stones have been replaced by seven main streets, such as Guangdong Road, Fujian Road, Zhuhai Road, and Hong Kong Pedestrians' Road, Xiamen Square and Zhujiang Market. The drainageways, street lamps, communications lines, green streets and parks have all been renovated. In recent years, over 110,000 square meters of buildings have been constructed. The hotels, department stores, restaurants, travel agencies, and places of amusement are each more impressive than the other. Bayi Town has an active night life; the town is forging ahead toward a clean, tidy, garden-like city with green vegetation year-round and flowers that blossom for three seasons.
The newly-built Zhujiang Market accommodates many customers every day. It is an organized market with a great variety of goods, including chicken, ducks, fish, pork, fresh vegetables, fruits and local special foods and medicinal materials. Once, a vendor from the mountains pointed to his goods and produced a wad of bills, saying, "We have come out of the mountains, and earned money by doing business in the market. This is what we call proceeding to being fairly well off."
On the mountain slopes around Bayi Town are some old villages, where industrious, honest people live. They used to live in traditional plank houses. In recent years, some of them have become rich and built new houses, which are uniquely shaped, colorfully decorated, and at once comfortable and beautiful. Groups of villas standing in the verdant mountains among red birches have formed a new scene of Bayi Town.