With eyes on India dispute, China to have 30 airports near India’s borders with occupied Tibet, Xinjiang

China's Lanzhou Military Region launched an air exercise on the plateau. (Photo courtesy: chinamil.com)

(TibetanReview.net, Sep10’21) – In continued further militarization of Tibet and boosting of its capacity to take on India with which it has a long-running volatile situation across occupied Tibet’s border, China is reported to be building or has built about 30 border airports, reported several Indian media outlets Sep 9-10, citing Chinamil.com online, the official military portal of the Chinese military this week.

“There are currently nearly 30 civil airports built or under construction in Xinjiang and Tibet,” an official in charge of a military transportation dispatch centre under the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Western Theatre Command (WTC) was quoted as saying.

“The rapid development of civil aviation in the border areas has provided convenience for the air transportation of recruits and veterans,” the PLA official was quoted as saying.

He has said the new airports will boost China’s civil and military infrastructure in the remote regions bordering India.

The massive development of rail, road and airport infrastructure was expected to vastly improve the Chinese military’s ability to move men, materials and weapons to the border areas at a faster pace, noted indiatoday.in Sep 10.

A chartered flight carrying 115 veterans took off from the Shigatse Heping Airport in Tibet and headed for Chengdu, Sichuan Province, on Sep 1, marking the official opening of 23 air routes for transporting new recruits and veterans into and out of Xinjiang and Tibet, the Chinamil online report was cited as saying.

After coordinating with airports in Urumqi, Kashgar, Lhasa, Shigatse and other places, the dispatch centre has opened up 23 routes to transport military recruits and veterans into and out of Xinjiang and Tibet this year, and temporarily opened three routes from Yinchuan, Jiayuguan, and Zhangye to Ngari, the report was cited as saying.

This year, all the recruits and veterans entering and exiting the Ngari area of Tibet will be transported by air, it was cited as saying.

Civil airliners are seen to be co-opted works for the military, especially during emergency. The report said some airlines help to reserve tickets of regular flights to Ngari in response to the troops’ emergency needs, adding that some urgently needed military supplies could also be delivered free of charge or at preferential rates by the civil airliners.

Three of the new airports to be built in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) are those at Lhunze county, Tingri county and Burang county, close to the border with India, the hindustantimes.com Sep 9 cited China’s official media as saying earlier this year.

Nearly two dozen new air routes have also been inaugurated connecting TAR and Xinjiang with cities across China this year, it cited the report as saying.

The hindustantimes.com report noted that the opening of new routes and rapid construction of new airports had come in the backdrop of the ongoing Sino-India border tension in eastern Ladakh.


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