China to invest hugely to develop Tibet`s rural road network

China is planning for a massive expansion of the road network in Tibet.

Updated: Oct 08, 2010, 16:32 PM IST

Beijing: China is gearing up for a massive expansion of the road network in Tibet, and will infuse USD 7.5 billion of investment over the next five years to connect the remote rural areas of the region with its extensive network of rail, road and air links. Transport authorities in remote China`s Tibet Autonomous Region will invest heavily in highway construction for the next five years to provide better access to its rural
townships, Chinese state run Xinhua news agency reported.

Almost 50 billion yuan (USD 7.5 billion) will be
earmarked for highway construction during the 2011-2015, it
quoted a spokesman with the Tibet Autonomous Regional
Transport Department as saying.

The total length of highways will be extended from the
current 58,000 km to 70,000 km by 2015 in the plateau region,
he said.

Under the initiative, all rural townships will be
connected by highways in Tibet where about three quarters of
townships already have highway links, he said.

In the past five years, China has invested heavily in
building transport infrastructure in Tibet, pouring money into
construction of highways, railways and airports.

On July 1 this year, Tibet`s fourth civil airport
opened in its far west Ngari area, shortening a trip to the
regional capital Lhasa to one and half hours from three or
four days by car, the report said.

The news of the expansion of the road network followed
the Chinese government`s clearance to extend the world`s
highest rail link connecting the provincial capital Lhasa to
Xigaze, the Tibetan prefecture located close to Indian border.

The extension of the 253 km railway line costing about
USD 1.98 billion was expected to be completed in four years.

Xigaze city, besides being the home of Panchen Lamas,
the second highest Tibetan spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism,
is also famous for its proximity to Mt Everest (knows as
Qomolangma in Tibet) which virtually rises up from it.
Xigaze has become politically important for Tibet in
recent years as 20-year-old Panchen Lama Bainqen Erdini
Qoigyijabu, being groomed by Chinese government to counter the
spiritual influence of Dalai Lama, has became active in the
region after his political debut in June this year.

Chinese officials claim the region has been quiet
after the 2008 riots, sparked by resentment over the steady
migration of the Han Chinese, into the conservative region
following which was crushed with heavy troop deployment.
The massive expansion of the transport network in
Tibet has also caused concerns in India as it provided
tactical logistic advantage to China to move its troops too
close to the Indian border.

This has prompted India to beef up its infrastructure
in the border areas, especially in Arunachal Pradesh, on which
China has made territorial claims.