News and Views on Tibet

China ramps up military build-up in Tibet, Xinjiang

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Chinese Z-20 attack helicopters flying in formation (China Daily/photo)

By Choekyi Lhamo

DHARAMSHALA, Feb. 16: China has significantly increased its military build-up in Tibet and Xinjiang, according to a report published last year by Stratfor, a leading security and intelligence consultancy. It detailed growing evidence of the increasing military infrastructure of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in India and civilian facilities along the borders in Ladakh, Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh.

China has reportedly embarked on an extensive campaign of building villages in disputed regions with the aim of settling thousands of people in uninhabited areas. The report by Hindustan Times (HT) said that the open source satellite imagery suggested that China has improved connectivity between key cities and military hubs in Tibet to reduce the time taken to move troops and logistics towards the border.

China continues to develop military facilities at Lhasa Gongkar (Ch: Gonggar) airport “including the renovating a surface-to-air missile site, a site for an air defence system, suspected support site for the air force and new hardened shelters to protect combat jets.” There has been improvement at the Lhasa heliport, which houses Z-20 attack helicopters. It has also created a surface-to-air missile site on the banks of Mansarovar Lake in Tibet and developed two new air defence positions that cover disputed borders in Doklam and Sikkim sectors.

Moreover, the Hotan airbase in Xinjiang which is part of the PLA western theatre command and crucial for air operations in Ladakh sector of the LAC has undergone a rapid upgrade in the last few months. The new infrastructure upgrades are aimed at “boosting military capabilities of the site” which also include runways and ammunition storage and auxiliary support facilities. The airbase has J-11 and J-20 combat jets, electronic warfare aircraft, airborne early warning and control aircraft, and drones.

Chinese authorities have ramped up upgrades of military infrastructure at places such as Golmud, the third-largest city on the Tibetan plateau. The city has served as a key staging post for Chinese troops and heavy equipment being moved towards the LAC over the past few months. The latest imagery shows China building a large heliport at Golmud with more than 60 hangars. According to Stratfor’s report, China built 13 new military positions including airbases and air defence units near the LAC after the 2017 Doklam standoff. It also started work on four heliports after the current tensions in Ladakh emerged in May last year.

2 Responses

  1. Choekyi Lhamo has made a useful contribution to the discussion of the CCP’s plans for the Tibetan Plateau. The results of other scholars’ research (for example Claude Arpi) suggest that the PRC is preparing for an invasion of Ladakh, and perhaps other regions to the west of Xinjiang. One thing to remember is that the PRC is on a “100 year marathon”, and its actions are not just the response to recent events. How can we know that the PRC intends to invade Ladakh? Because it needs the Indus corridor for a rail connection with its Gwadar port in Pakistan. Why would the PRC value this connection with Gwadar so highly? Because it will allow them to militarize this port and outflank the USA, giving it control the Strait of Harmuz and the Arabian Sea. Without it, the PRC is doomed to always be a secondary power, and subject to US intentions.

  2. “China ramps up military build-up in Tibet, Xinjiang” Should we be worry about this? The Leftie Tibetan social justice ‘activists’ surely aren’t worried – they assure us repeatedly that Biden is a friend and a Savior of the Tibetan cause – unlike that evil, self-serving and very ‘racist’ Trump.

    Even so-called Rangzen leaders, like Jamyang Norbu la, adopting some kind of political Manichaeism, seems to hate Trump and those Tibetans who support him more than organ harvesting CCP, ironically, seen on the side of Good in this instance, because both the lefty neo liberals and the CCP hate Trump.

    JN and his virtue signaling ilk may even feel the above article title, a negative racist slur, against the Chinese people. Who knows, they may already have started petitions to cancel Phayul. In their moral narcissism, concentration camps don’t seem to exist, but getting labelled a ‘racist’ is a whole lot worse.

    I think in keeping with the Lefty agenda all Tibs must get better at self-censoring ourselves when it comes to China. Somehow this is good for the Tibetan struggle.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *