Update: March 26, 2022 9:33 p.m. STI
Lhasa [Tibet]March 26 (ANI): China, under the guise of internal and external security threats, upgrades its military infrastructure along the western border in Tibet and Xinjiang.
New airports and heliports are built or modernized as a priority. Most of them will be military or dual-use installations. The air facilities are complemented by the expansion of rail and road infrastructure to facilitate the logistics and movement capabilities of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops, Tibet Press reported.
According to Tibet Press, the biggest perceived threat concerns the disputed border between China and India.
“China completes them with four new airports in Tibet. Three of them – Lhuntse Airport, Ngari-Burang Airport and Shigatse Tingri Airport – are located within 60 km of the Sino border. -Indian. The new facilities also fill large gaps along the Indian border where there were previously no airports. If PLA Air Force (PLAAF) units are based at these airports, China will gain several new nodes along the border to project air power into India,” according to a ChinaPower research paper.
In Xinjiang, authorities have upgraded 15 airports over the past five years. Seven of them are military or dual-use facilities.
According to the research paper, “one such airport is Hotan Airport, a major dual-use airport located approximately 240 km west of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).”
Significantly, he says, “less than 5 km southeast of the main airport area, a surface-to-air missile (SAM) complex is being upgraded, bolstering the air defenses of the airport and surrounding areas”.
Significant investments are needed to develop road and rail infrastructure in both regions. According to official figures, “Tibet’s road network grew by 51% between 2015 and 2020, from 7,840 km to 11,820 km, faster than the growth rate of any other province, region or municipality”. Xinjiang’s expressway network has also grown at a rapid pace, “growing from 17,830 km in 2015 to 20,920 km in 2020”.
The buildup is significant because not only are the regions of Xinjiang and Tibet far from China’s industrial east coast, but they also border 11 countries with most of which China has ongoing disputes.
Xinjiang is important to China because of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project and its intention to recreate the ancient Silk Road to find a new land route for Chinese goods to enter Europe.
Xinjiang occupies a central position within the BRI and serves as a key link between China and its western neighbors, Tibet Press reported.
China has also strengthened “security cooperation with neighboring countries – including Tajikistan, Afghanistan and, more recently, Kazakhstan – with the aim of strengthening their internal security and combating instability that may arise. spread in China”.
Domestically, China fears that hostile foreign powers or local insurgents could foment unrest in Tibet and Xinjiang.
The independence movement of the Tibetan people and the protests of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang against Chinese oppression are cause for concern. Additionally, both regions are autonomous regions in China with large ethnic minority populations, Tibet Press reported. (ANI)