China plans spree in Tibet with rising tensions in India: report

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Chinese flag at the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, China. (Reuters)

Beijing:

China is planning a push of more than 1 trillion yuan ($ 146 billion) to accelerate infrastructure investments in Tibet, including new and previously announced projects, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

The renewed urge to spur development on the remote and impoverished region of the southwest signals Beijing’s intention to strengthen border security in the face of mounting border tensions with India in recent months, two of the sources said.

Last week, during a high-level meeting of the Communist Party on the future governance of Tibet, China President Xi Jinping commended achievements and praised frontline officials, but said further efforts were needed to enrich, rejuvenate and strengthen unity in the region .

He said a number of major infrastructure projects and public facilities would be completed, including the Sichuan-Tibet Railway, the official Xinhua News Agency announced.

The construction plans include the completion of the challenging middle section of an elevated Sichuan-Tibet rail link, a railway line under construction between Nepal and Tibet, and a newly planned dry port in the Tibet Autonomous Region, said.

The sources declined to be identified as they were not authorized to speak to the media.

It was not immediately clear how much of the targeted spending is new or how many years it would be invested.

The Chinese State Council Information Office and the Tibet Regional Government did not immediately respond to requests for comments.

Construction of the most difficult section of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway, connecting Chengdu with Lhasa, will begin in the coming weeks, two sources said.

The 270 billion yuan section of the railroad is known for engineering challenges resulting from uneven terrain and complex geology, particularly for the segment connecting Sichuan’s city of Ya’an with Nyingchi in southeast Tibet near the border with India.

Beijing also wants to promote the Tibet-Nepal Railway, which connects Kathmandu with Shigatse, the second largest city in Tibet. This was part of a series of bilateral agreements signed between Nepal and China in 2018, but has not yet met with much approval.

Nepal is a buffer between China and India and is viewed by New Delhi as its natural ally. However, China has made progress by pouring aid and infrastructure investments into one of the poorest countries in the world.

A clash in June on the China-India border was the worst violence between the two nations in decades, and there is little evidence that tensions are easing and more army action has been taken over the past week.

RAIL ACCESS

Beijing has long been committed to building a high-speed rail network to make Tibet more accessible from China’s inland provinces and plans to improve or expand the railways planned or built that connect it with other parts of China, two of the said Swell.

Last month, China announced plans to expand the country’s rail network by a third over the next 15 years.

Within Tibet, planned spending will cover upgrading and upgrading highways, roads, and scenic spots, according to two sources.

Beijing sent troops to Tibet in 1950, officially known as the peaceful liberation, and maintains a strong security presence in the region, which is prone to unrest.

China rejects criticism from rights groups and Tibetan exiles of its rule there, saying it has brought much-needed development to a remote region and has respected the culture and religion of Tibet.

China’s policy towards Tibet has again come under the spotlight this year amid deteriorating relations with the United States.

In July, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States would restrict visas for some Chinese officials involved in blocking diplomatic access to Tibet and “human rights abuses”.

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