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China rapidly strengthening further militarization of Tibetan Plateau

(TibetanReview.net, Jan13’21) – In the backdrop of the tense border situation across India’s Union Territory of Ladakh, now continuing in its eighth month, China has been reported to be further ramping up the militarization of the Tibetan Plateau by developing a major military logistics hub at Shigatse (Chinese: Xigaze) City in southern Tibet. In fact, military infrastructure is being rapidly developed all across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with India and across the Tibetan Plateau, reported the hindustantimes.com Jan 11.

Experts believe the Shigatse move is in line with Beijing’s efforts to ramp up connectivity and infrastructure for operations all along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the report said, citing satellite imagery.

The report said the imagery, shared Jan 11 by the open-source intelligence analyst who uses the name @detresfa on Twitter, showed infrastructure upgrades south of Xigatse airport that link the facility to a rail terminal. The imagery suggests the infrastructure will be part of a logistics hub for China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

Among the under-construction structures captured by the imagery were stated to be a surface-to-air missile site, a suspected military support building, a new railway terminal and new railway line, and a possible fuel dump. The imagery was also reported to show what appeared to be a newly developed underground facility.

The report added that earlier, the imagery of the same suspected underground facility had captured what appeared to be two tunnel entrances.

The report cited Sim Tack, a Belgium-based security analyst for Force Analysis, as saying there was mounting evidence in the form of satellite imagery of China’s massive upgrade of logistics facilities and connectivity across the Tibet Autonomous Region. He has said the satellite imagery also suggested that infrastructure was being upgraded or built to support military operations all along the LAC, from Aksai Chin to Arunachal Pradesh.

“All of these logistical upgrades, including the construction of rail connectivity and utilities, appear to be aimed at quickly moving large numbers of forces within Tibet and from other parts of China to Tibet,” Tack has said.

He sees the new underground facility being built near the airport at Xigatse as a specialized facility where missile systems could be stored.

“This new infrastructure is in line with China’s efforts to upgrade facilities all along the LAC. Earlier, there was evidence of the construction or upgrading of forward positions in Aksai Chin such as airbases, heliports and air defence sites. Now, there is evidence of the creation of logistical facilities,” Tack has said.

He has said the development was taking place at a rapid pace. “Things are moving very rapidly and it’s almost as if things are popping up out of the ground every time we review satellite imagery. Almost every day, new positions seem to be coming up as part of a very large infrastructure drive. For example, a lot of infrastructure is also being created at Golmud.”

Golmud is a new city that came up in Qinghai Province after China’s annexation of Tibet. It is dominated by Chinese settlers who have made it the third-largest city on the Tibetan plateau.

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