Friday, April 29, 2011

Fast Trains to China's Periphery

Sunday, April 24, 2011
In my book, Born in Sin, I consecrated a chapter to the "New Roads" built by China in the 1950's to link different parts of its territory. I wrote:
Soon after the PLA entered Lhasa, the Chinese made plans to improve communications and built new roads on a war-footing. The only way to consolidate and ‘unify’ the Empire was to construct a large network of roads. The work began immediately after the arrival of the first young Chinese soldiers in Lhasa. Priority was given to motorable roads: the Chamdo-Lhasa , the Qinghai-Lhasa and the Tibet-Xinjiang Highway (later known as the Aksai Chin) in the western Tibet. The first surveys were done at the end of 1951 and construction began in 1952.
We already discovered that the construction of one of the feeder roads leading to Nathu-la, the border pass between Sikkim and Tibet had some strange consequences. India began feeding the Chinese road workers in Tibet, sending tons of rice through this route. John Lall, posted in Gangtok, witnessed long caravans of mules leaving for Tibet.
The official report of the 1962 China War prepared by the Indian Ministry of Defense gives a few examples showing that the construction of the road cutting across Indian soil on the Aksai Chin plateau of Ladakh was known to the Indian ministries of Defense and External Affairs long before it was made public.
Fifty years later, Beijing has extended the scope of its strategic vision. Beijing's influence now reaches 'China's periphery' as this article published by Jamestown Foundation and Asian Times shows. But it is not through roads anymore, but with railway lines.
I have often written about this worrying development, particularly about the most strategic railway lines (at least for India), the Qinghai-Tibet line which will branch to Xinjiang during the 12th Five-Year Plan.
China's neighbours should meet to discuss a true strategic partnership to counter the rise of China.
Fast Trains to China's Periphery: click here to read more

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