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China completes building the last tunnel of second strategic highway in Tibet close to India’s border

(TibetanReview.net, Sep07’21) – After spending seven years and more than 2 billion yuan ($310 million), China completed on May 16 the building of the 2,114-meter Laohuzui Tunnel of the Paimo Highway project which connects Pai township to Metog county within Nyingchi City of Tibet Autonomous Region, reported the official chinadaily.com.cn Sep 6.

A photo caption said most of the workers on the Laohuzui Tunnel were from Yunnan, Guizhou and Sichuan provinces. “They have been working far away from home for a long time, and they haven’t had time to take care of their families,” the report said.

Perhaps the project should have employed local Tibetans so that the Chinese workers would not have to miss their families for a long time?

China has for long struggled to open the strategically located Metog County by highway. It became the last county in the People’s Republic of China to be connected with its national road network in 2013. The Paimo Highway will become the second, more reliable highway to the county.

Metog is located almost just across the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims is part of southern Tibet and therefore its territory.

Laohuzui Tunnel of the Paimo Highway project which connects Pai township to Metog county within Nyingchi City of Tibet Autonomous Region. (Photo courtesy: Xinhua)

Pai (or Payi) is predominantly populated by Chinese immigrants and the opening of the new highway will pave the way for the movement of more Chinese settlers to the strategically important border county. The county already has a sizeable Chinese presence and the official media recently highlighted mixed Tibetan-Chinese marriages in the areas, praising them as a symbol of ethnic unity.

As the last controlling node of the entire project, the Laohuzui Tunnel marks a new breakthrough in the region. The completion of the tunnel, 228 days ahead of the original schedule, heralds the full connection of the Paimo Highway, the report said.

The Paimo Highway is 67.22 kilometers long, starting from Pai township, and passes through the backside of the Duoxiongla Snow Mountain through an extra-long tunnel to Songlinkou. The Xionghe extension line passes through Khanmi and Laohuzui to Beibeng township in Metog county, the report said.

After the highway opens to traffic, the distance from urban areas of Nyingchi to Metog county is reduced to 180 kilometers from 346 km, with travel time reduced to about 4.5 hours from the previous 11, the report added.

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