(TibetanReview.net, Mar09’23) – Building roads has been among the first and most important focus of the Chinese government for invading Tibet as well as consolidating and strengthening control over the Tibetan Plateau region. It has also been vital for its exploitation of the region’s rich mineral and other natural resources. It is not surprising, therefore, that its local Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) government had invested nearly 36.7 billion yuan ($5.36 billion) on traffic and transportation projects last year, as reported by its official chinadaily.com.cn Mar 9. A substantial increase in investment has been announced for this year as China keeps increasing its focus on border infrastructure with military implications due to which additional fund could come from Beijing too.
The report said that thanks to the heavy investment, the TAR’s 662 townships and 4,382 villages have been linked by paved roads. As a result, 95% of its townships and 78% of its villages are now connected by roads, the report cited the region’s traffic and transportation department as saying Mar 8 during the TAR’s annual work conference on traffic and transportation.
The region was stated to have seen an increase of 720 kilometres in its rural network, with its total road network running to more than 121,000 km last year.
The report said that during 2022, a total of 185 road construction projects were undertaken while 1117 unsafe bridges were renovated in the region’s rural areas. Passenger bus services in rural areas were stated to have been increased, with 612 townships and 3,705 villages linked with shuttle buses as of December. About 90% of its townships and 69% of its villages were stated to have had been given access to shuttle bus services.
The report that this year, the region will use 40 billion yuan for traffic and transportation projects, with the total highway distance expected to reach 124,000 km. At that point, more than 95.5% of the region’s townships and 82% of its villages will be accessible by road.
The upgrade and improvement of traffic and transportation had greatly contributed to the region’s overall social and economic development, the report said.
The report cited Li Yuwei, the Chinese leader of Tradruk township in Lhokha City, as saying more tourists had been coming to the villages to observe its Tibetan opera culture and local customs as a result of improvement in transport infrastructure.