In its western borders of Tibet and Xinjiang, China is modernising its military facilities to address internal and external security challenges. Construction or upgrades of new airports are underway in the regions. As per the reports of Tibet Press, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is supplementing its aviation capabilities with the building of rail and road infrastructure to help with logistical and troop movement.
The research paper ChinaPower suggests that four more airports in Tibet are being built by China. Among them, Lhuntse Airport, Ngari-Burang Airport, and Shigatse Tingri Airport are all located within 60 kilometres of the China-India border, which will fill up big gaps along the Indian border where there were no airports previously.
Xinjiang has renovated 15 airports
In the last five years, the government of Xinjiang has renovated 15 airports, military or dual-use facilities account for seven of them. The research paper also stated that one such airport is Hotan Airport, which is a significant dual-use airport located approximately 240 kilometres west of the Line of Actual Control (LAC). A surface-to-air missile (SAM) complex is being updated less than 5 km southeast of the main airport area, bolstering the air defences at the airport and neighbouring areas. In these regions, significant investment is being made in the development of road and rail infrastructure.
Officials estimate that Tibet’s roadway system rose 51% between 2015 and 2020, from 7,840 km to 11,820 km faster than any other province, region, or municipality. While, Xinjiang’s highway network has also grown rapidly, from 17,830 kilometres in 2015 to 20,920 kilometres in 2020. The build-up is crucial because the Xinjiang and Tibet regions are not only remote from China’s industrial east coast, but they also border 11 countries with which China has long-standing territorial disputes.
China has also increased security cooperation with bordering nations
Xinjiang is a major link between China and its western neighbours. China has also increased security cooperation with bordering nations, like Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Kazakhstan, with the goal of boosting their domestic security. In the meanwhile, the Tibetan independence movement and the Uyghur Muslim protests against Chinese tyranny are causes for concern for China. Both regions are Chinese autonomous regions with significant ethnic minorities.
(Inputs from ANI)
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