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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

China to build world’s highest airport in Tibet

January 4, 2012

Phayul[Tuesday, December 27, 2011 21:34]
DHARAMSHALA, December 27: China is all set to build the world’s highest airport beginning next year in Nagchu, central Tibet.

According to China’s state news agency Xinhua, the Nagchu airport, at an altitude of 4,436 metres (14,553 ft) will be 102 metres higher than the current highest airport in Chamdo, eastern Tibet.

The airport, designed to cover an area of up to 267 hectares, will cost 1.8 billion yuan ($280 million) and is expected to open in three years, Xinhua added.

Nagchu is located approximately 250 kms north-east of Tibet’s capital city of Lhasa and falls on the controversial Gormo-Lhasa railway line, which became functional in June 2006.

Under its Western Development Strategy launched in 1999, China has invested billions of dollars in promoting major infrastructure programmes in Tibet, including building of a strong railway network, highways, and airports with the goal, as experts believe, to cement its control over Tibet and provide a cost effective way in exploiting Tibet’s rich mineral resources.

Earlier this year, Chinese owned Tibet Airlines Co Ltd operated its maiden flight from Lhasa Gonggar Airport to Ngari Ali Khunsa Airport, a move to help realise China’s hopes that the Himalayan region will play host to about 15 million visitors a year by 2015.

Developmental projects in Tibet, which on most occasions are planned and implemented without the involvement of native Tibetans, have been a key area of conflict in the restive region.

China’s continued stress on economic development inside Tibet with the pouring-in of state money in the form of subsidies and investments is seen by many as a misrepresentation of the actual causes of unrest and continuing anti-government protests inside Tibet.

Since March this year, 12 Tibetans have set their bodies on fire demanding the return of the Dalai Lama from exile and protesting China’s continued occupation of Tibet.

According to the website of the Central Tibetan Administration, based in exile in Dharamshala, north India, Chinese development trends on the Tibetan Plateau have “marginalised Tibetans” and is “encouraging the influx of Chinese migrants”. 

“There is no effective local participation in these so-called development projects. Tibetans already under the illegal occupation of China lack any public voices and are excluded from involvement in projects in whose name they are being designed,” says the exiled Tibetan leadership.
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