China completes Tibet highway
22/05/2021

Tags:

Context:

  • China has completed the construction of a strategic highway through the Brahmaputra Canyon.

China’s Border Infrastructure push – Strategic significance:

  • The strategically significant highway through the world’s deepest canyon is in Tibet along the Brahmaputra river.
    • It passes through the Grand Canyon of the YarlungZangbo river, as the Brahmaputra is called in Tibet.
    • It enables greater access to remote areas along the disputed border with Arunachal Pradesh in India.
    • The construction began in 2014 and is part of a wider infrastructure push in border areas in Tibet.
  1.  November 2020China began work on a strategically important railway line — its second major rail link to Tibet that will link Sichuan province with Nyingchi.
    • The first one was the Qinghai-Tibet railway that opened in 2006.
    • The Chinese President called it a major step in safeguarding national unity and a significant move in promoting the economic and social development of the western region.
    • The railway would act as a ‘fast track’ for the delivery of strategic materials in the time of crisis.
  1. part of the border infrastructure push is the construction of new civilian settlements, along with the expansion of existing smaller hamlets, along border areas, some of which lie in disputed territories claimed by India and Bhutan, to strengthen China’s control over the land.
  1. 2017, the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) government launched a plan to build moderately well-off villages along China’s borders with India, Bhutan, and Nepal.

Concerns:

  • In 2020, satellite images emerged showing a new village called Pangda built 2-3 km into what Bhutan sees as its land.
  • In 2021, a village built 4-5 km into what India sees as its territory in Arunachal was seen via satellite images.
    • Indian officials said this land has been under China’s effective control since 1959 and there were military barracks there earlier.

Conclusion:

  • The civilian settlements, along with the new infrastructure connectivity, are seen as aimed at bolstering China’s control over the areas.
  • India needs to be vigilant enough for any new development in China near its border to protect its interests efficiently. Further, it needs to build robust Infrastructure in difficult border areas in its territory to ensure movement of personnel and other logistical supplies in an efficient manner.
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