Continuing its infrastructure build up in Tibet, China has completed a key section of the Beijing-Lhasa expressway, a 295 km stretch from Lhasa to Nagqu. This section is located at an average altitude of 4,500 metres above sea level which Chinese state media have termed the world’s highest expressway.
In a separate development opposite the Central sector in Uttarakhand, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has set up surveillance equipment and cameras opposite the Kio Dhura pass, according to intelligence inputs.
“Yellow balloon-shaped surveillance equipment are co-located with a wind mill and solar panel at the site,” according to inputs.
Joins PLA commands
The Lhasa-Nagqu section is part of the G6 Beijing-Lhasa expressway and is the first expressway linking Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region to north Tibet. It also connects the PLA’s Central Theatre Command with the Western Theatre Command which is responsible for the border with India, an official source said.
“An important stretch of the expressway between Nagqu to Yangbaijain of Lhasa-Nagqu section was put into operational trial on August 21. On completion of Lhasa-Nagqu section, the driving time between Lhasa and Nagqu has reduced from six hours to three hours,” an official source said.
The completed expressway will pass through seven major cities of China including Beijing, Hebei, inner Mangolia, Ningxia, Gansu, Qinghai and Lhasa with an approximate length of 3,710 km, the official added.
Amid Ladakh standoff
China has been on a massive infrastructure build up in Tibet which continued all through the standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh with India since May last year. The infrastructure includes duel use airfields, roads, accommodation for troops, ammunition dumps among others.
In June, China had launched a high speed bullet train connecting Lhasa with Nyingchi, a strategically located Tibetan town located close to Arunachal Pradesh.
Continuing regular exercises in the area, the PLA has conducted two live firing exercises under its Xinjiang Military District (XMD) in the first week of September, officials said.
The Artillery regiment of 8 Mountain Infantry Division conducted live firing exercise employing PCL-181 155mm vehicle mounted howitzer guns in the high altitude plateau, an official said. Similarly, the 31 Regiment of 11 Mountain Division of PLA conducted live firing and assessment exercise employing PCD-001 vehicle mounted, rapid fire mortars in the high altitude area, the official added.
In September first week, the Indian Army too had conducted an exercise with armoured elements in the Super High Altitude Area of Ladakh at altitude of over 15,000 feet under the aegis of the Leh based 14 Corps. This was conducted by the Snow Leopard armoured Brigade located at Nyoma, very close to the Chushul range on the South Bank of Pangong Tso.
Last August, during the standoff, both sides had deployed heavy tanks within couple of hundred metres from each other. These along with other armoured elements and troops were withdrawn as part of the first phase of disengagement from both sides of Pangong Tso in February this year.
Another round of disengagement was undertaken in Gogra area of Eastern Ladakh in August following an agreement during the 12th round of Corps Commander talks as part of efforts for overall disengagement and de-escalation in Eastern Ladakh to end the standoff.