Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Strategic changes on the Tibetan plateau

One of the bridges on the Metok highway
One of the most strategic developments of the year 2013 has been the opening of the Metok Highway to the civilian and military traffic. The road is located north of the McMahon Line.
During the last 2 years, I have often mentioned the importance of this highway linking Metok to the rest of Tibet.
Yesterday, China Tibet Online published a photo feature of the famous road in winter (photos are taken on December 18).
The article says: "Bome [Bomi] county in Tibet formally opened to traffic on October 31, 2013, ending the county's isolation from the outside world. The 117-km highway, which cost 155 million U.S. dollars, links Zhamog [Chamok?] Township, the county seat of Bome, and Metok in Nyingchi Prefecture in southeastern Tibet. With the opening of the road, people in Metok have higher expectations for their future."
One could add, the People's Liberation Army too.
Truck on the way to Metok
At Km 52 in the early morning
At Km 24
Following the Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra)
At the foot of the pass
Commemorating the strategic opening
Another development concerning Tibet
Another serious development, as far as Tibet is concerned, is the successful test flight of an 'home-made' Z-20 utility helicopter. The South China Morning Post reported: "Analysts believe it has an edge over American counterpart in high-altitude regions".
In China, 'high-altitude regions' refers to Tibet.
The announcement of the test flight of the PLA's helicopter 'filled up a blank' in the military arsenal of China, believe the experts.
Maiden flight of the Z-20?
A photo of the aircraft was published on the domestic military forum
It prompted "a flurry of speculation from tech-savvy military enthusiasts about its potential performance and efficiency."
The South China Morning Post added: "Dubbed by amateurs as 'Z-20', a codename that is in line with the naming pattern of previous military helicopter models, the aircraft’s exterior is similar to the US-made Sikorsky UH-60, better known as the Black Hawk”.
During a CCTV programme, Du Wenlong, a military analyst commented that the new helicopter has "a capacity of 10 tonnes, putting it between the categories of agile attack helicopters and heavy transportation helicopters".
Chinese media reports further explained that "its flexibility allows it to be modified to cope with a wide range of tasks such as assault, transportation, electronic warfare and special operations. It can even boost the country's naval power, potentially being able make landings on PLA ships such as the aircraft carrier Liaoning".
Regarding Tibet, the interesting feature is the five-blade propeller: "Unlike Black Hawk’s four, [it] gives more superior performance in high-altitude regions, such as southwestern China’s vast Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, which is home to a restive Tibetan population and is flanked by India, with which it has long-standing border tensions", says the Hong Kong publication.
When fully operational, it can certainly used in places like Nagchu or elsewhere on the Tibetan plateau as a new tool of repression.

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