(TibetanReview.net, May23, 2014) –All but 136 of the villages throughout Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), the western half of ethnographic Tibet, had been paved with asphalt road by the end of 2013, reported China’s online Tibet news service eng.tibet.cn May 22, citing the official Xinhua news agency. The report cited Tashi Gyatso, head of the regional bureau of transportation, as saying more investments will be made in highway construction in the near future.
By the end of 2013, of the 5,261 villages in the TAR, 5,125 had been paved with asphalt, accounting for 97.4 percent of the total, the report said. It cited Tashi Gyatso as saying the construction of a dozen key projects will be implemented in 2014, although it was not clear whether all the 5,261 villages in the TAR will be connected by asphalt roads.
The report said the TAR’s total highway mileage exceeded 70,000 km, with 58,000 km of it being in rural areas.
While the report said that road building had helped to improve living conditions of the people in the agricultural and animal husbandry areas, it has also enabled China to exercise more effective control over the Tibetan population, a large portion of whom oppose the Chinese occupation rule and policies, besides greatly enhancing China’s strategic position in the disputed border areas.
The report also said the TAR government will invest 21.3 billion yuan in extending its highway mileage by more than 5,000 kilometers to eliminate the traffic bottleneck that hampers the social and economic progress. It did not provide a timeframe for this plan.