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China to counter India's Military Advantages in Arunachal Pradesh

August 11, 2010

by B. Raman
Sri Lanka Guardian
August 5, 2010

The "People's Daily" of China has carried the
following posting in its People’s Forum on August 5,2010:

"PLA ( People's Liberation Army) Daily reported
August 3 a train loaded with important combat
readiness materials of the Air Force of the
Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) got to the
destination safely via the Qinghai-Tibet Railway.

"According to a leader of the Military
Transportation Department of the Logistics
Department of the PLA Air Force, this is the
first time for his Military Transportation
Department to organize combat readiness materials
to be transported to Tibet by railway since the
Qinghai-Tibet Railway opened to traffic,
symbolizing a new improvement of the military
transportation capacity of the PLA Air Force in combat support.

"As the average altitude of the Qinghai-Tibet
Railway is above 4,000 meters, the transport
guards are apt to cause altitude reaction
sickness. To ensure the safety of the
transportation, the Military Transportation
Department of the PLA Air Force dispatched
personnel to command in the forefront and follow
the whole transportation process as well as
participate in reinforcing, binding and inspecting materials on the way.

"To ensure transportation safety of important
combat readiness materials, the officers and men
of the Military Transportation Department of the
PLA Air Force immediately examine the safety
state of the train each time when the train stops
at the stations along the Qinghai-Tibet Railway.
They also persist in summing up experience after
traveling for some distance, so as to adjust and
improve the preplans for the following actions.
During the stop process of the train, the
security sentinels always keep a close watch, so
as to ensure the important combat readiness
materials to be transported to the destination safely.

"For a long term, Indian troops have taken the
form of "war of attrition" in the South Tibet
(Arunachal Pradesh) area to counteract the PLA
army stationed there, solely relying on their
geographic edge and advantages in transportation.

"However, with the rapid rise of China’s national
strength as well as its transporting capacities
of important combat readiness materials, could
India still afford the "War of Attrition" with China?"

My comments: The Chinese have embarked on a
policy of constructing more airports in Tibet
capable of being used by civil and military
planes and strengthening the freight-carrying
capacity of the railway line to Tibet.According
to an unconfirmed report, they intend doubling
the line so that one line could be dedicated to
freight traffic. Recent open-source reports on
airport construction in Tibet are annexed.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd),
Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi,
and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical
Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai
Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com)

--------
ANNEXURE

-- From a Press Release dated June 29, 2010, of
The China Tibet Information Centre

Tibet's Ngari Gunsa Airport is ready to open in
July following the successful flight trial. The
Ngari Gunsa Airport in northwest Tibet's Ngari
Prefecture is set to open in July following the
successful flight trial on May 28. The flight
distance from Lhasa to Ngari is 1,098km.

Li Qiang, deputy stationmaster of Ngari Civil
Aviation Administration, said," The price of
ticket is supposed to start from 2,590 yuan. The
flights will operate on Tuesdays and Fridays. Up
to now, the tickets can only be bought at the
fixed stations, and the booking online service is
not available. Concerned by the weather in Ngari
and the large aircraft fuel load, 50 to 60
passengers can be delivered by Air China A319 in
winter, and 30 to 20 in summer." The airport
began to be built in May of 2007 and completed
the constructions in May this year at a total
cost of 1.7 billion yuan. At an altitude of 4,274
meters, the construction of the airport, the
fourth of its kind in Tibet, was very difficult.
Ngari Prefecture, 1,600 km away from Tibet's
capital of Lhasa, lies in the northwestern part
of Tibet with complicated geological conditions.
Transportation has been a bottleneck to the
area's social and economic development,
especially the development of the local tourism
industry, according to local authorities.

-- From a Despatch dated APRIL 10,2010, of the
the Xinhua News Agency from Lhasa

LHASA - The fifth civil airport in southwest
China's Tibet autonomous region is expected to
start operating in October, a local aviation
official said.Construction of the Peace Airport
in Xigaze prefecture began in April last year and
would be completed in September, making its
opening in October feasible, said Xu Bo, director
of the Civil Aviation Administration's Tibet
Branch. With an investment of 489 million yuan
($71.7 million), the airport would be able to
handle 230,000 passengers and 1,150 tons of
cargos and allow 2,580 take-offs and landings
annually by 2020. It is believed the project will
boost investment and tourism in Xigaze, the
second largest city in Tibet. Xigaze is home to a
group of ancient temples and the world's highest
peak, Mount Qomolangma, in Dingri county. It
would be the fifth civil airport in Tibet, after
those in Lhasa, Qamdo, Nyingchi and Ngari. Tibet
also plans to build the world's highest airport
at an altitude of 4,436 meters in Nagqu Prefecture.

-- From a Despatch dated JULY 1,2010, FROM CHENGDU OF THE XINHUA NEWS AGENCY

NGARI/CHENGDU - Gunsa Airport in Southwest
China's Tibet autonomous region started operation
Thursday (July 1, 2010), becoming the fourth
civil airport on the "Roof of the World." An
Airbus 319 landed at Gunsa Airport, in Ngari
prefecture, at 10:20 am, marking the airport's
formal opening.The passenger flight from Chengdu,
capital of the neighboring Sichuan province, was
operated by Air China's southwestern branch. Air
China would fly from Chengdu to Lhasa and on to
Ngari every Tuesday and Friday, said Bao Lida, a
press official with the company's southwestern
branch based in Chengdu. "The flight leaves
Chengdu at 5:50 am and arrives Lhasa two hours
later," said Bao. "It leaves Lhasa at 8:40 am and
arrives Ngari at 10:20 am." The flight distance
between Chengdu and Ngari is 2,300 km. Gunsa
Airport sits more than 4,200 meters above sea
level and has a 4,500-meter runway. Its annual
throughput capacity is expected to reach 120,000
passengers by 2020. Construction of the airport
began in May 2007 and cost an estimated 1.65
billion yuan ($241.22 million). Before the
airport opened, Ngari was linked to Lhasa only by
road and it took three days to cover the 1,600-km
route. Gunsa Airport is the fourth civil airport
in Tibet after Gonggar Airport in Lhasa, Bamda
Airport in Qamdo Prefecture and Nyingchi Airport.
A fifth airport, Peace Airport in Xigaze, is
expected to open in October. Exactly four years
ago, China opened a landmark railway linking
Tibet with major cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
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