BEIJING, 21 May: China is ramping up efforts to develop the infrastructure in remote villages located along Tibet’s border with India, Bhutan and Nepal, according to a white paper on Tibet issued by the Chinese government on Friday.
Developing the border areas and improving people’s lives in Tibet has become important as the strategic Himalayan region shares a 4,000-km long external border line, the document titled ‘Tibet since 1951: Liberation, development and prosperity’ said.
The inhabitants of the contiguous areas experience harsh living and working conditions and a high incidence of poverty. Governments at all levels have been making constant efforts to develop border areas and improve people’s lives, it said.
The document said that under the guidance of the ruling Communist Party, financial allocation has been increasing year by year for border development in Tibet.
The development of China’s border areas by establishing new villages with added emphasis on security has been accorded a priority since President Xi Jinping came to power in 2012.
The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488-km-long line of actual control (LAC), of which 1,126 kms are located in Arunachal. China claims Arunachal as South Tibet, which India has firmly rejected.
China also shares an over 477-km-long border with Bhutan which is yet to be delineated, and 1,389 kms of border with Nepal.
The border village development was highlighted when President Jinping wrote a letter to a Tibetan herdsman family in Lhunze county, close to Arunachal, in 2017, asking them to set down roots to safeguard the Chinese territory and focus on developing their hometown.
“Without the peace in the territory, there will be no peaceful lives for the millions of families,” Jinping wrote in his much-publicized letter focusing on border development.
Particularly since Jinping came to power, border villages, townships and counties in Tibet have been granted more preferential state policies on infrastructure construction, covering water, electricity, roads, and housing, it said.
In 2017, the plan of Tibet autonomous region on the construction of villages of moderate prosperity in border areas (2017-2020) was released, designed to ensure better access to housing, water, electricity, roads, communications and the internet, to improve education, technology, culture, healthcare and social security in border villages, and to boost industries in border areas.
By the end of 2020, first-tier and second-tier border villages had access to highways, all border townships and towns were connected to the main power grid, and all border villages had access to postal services, mobile communications, and safe drinking water, it said.
The Tibet autonomous region also has built a comprehensive transport network composed of highways, railways, air routes and pipelines since its peaceful liberation in 1951, it said.
The region has built 118,800 kms of highways over the decades, said the document.
Now, 94 percent of towns and 76 percent of administrative villages in the region have direct access to asphalt and concrete roads, it said.
Tibet last year announced USD 2.09 billion plan to build three new airports and the expansion of the Lhasa Gonggar airport.
The three new airports will be built in Lhunze, Tingri and Burang counties.
China has already built airports in Bamda in Qamdo, Mainling in Nyingchi, Xigaze, and in Ngari. Tibet now has 140 domestic and international air routes in operation, reaching 66 cities, the white paper said. (PTI)