Representative image | (Source: Reuters)
An official document released by the Chinese government on May 21 claimed that the country is giving preference to "infrastrure construction" in border villages of Tibet.
The 4,000-km border of Tibet includes points of dispute between China and India, along with China and Bhutan. In the past, Beijing has raised apprehensions over New Delhi resorting to infrastructure development on its side of the border.
China's State Council Information Office (SCIO) has released the white paper, titled 'Tibet Since 1951: Liberation, Development and Prosperity'. In the document, it categorically stated that border areas along the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) are being developed to "improve people's lives".
The monetary allocations to develop the villages, towns and counties along the border region have been increased, the white paper said, without specifying the exact amount allocated on yearly basis.
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"Under the guidance of the Party Central Committee, financial input has been increasing year by year for border development in Tibet," the paper said.
"Particularly since 2012, border villages, townships and counties in Tibet have been granted more preferential state policies on infrastructure construction, covering water, electricity, roads, and housing," the document added.
The claim made in the white paper appears to be in line with the announcement made by Chinese President Xi Jinping on March 9, 2013. At the 12th National People’s Congress, China’s parliament, Jinping had stated the country's frontiers must be governed efficiently. "And to govern the frontiers well we must first ensure stability in Tibet,” he had said.
The Chinese government had, in 2017 - the year which also saw the Sino-Indian standoff in Doklam - unveiled a plan to construct villages of "moderate prosperity" in border areas of TAR over the next three years.
The white paper suggested that the plan has been successful. "By the end of 2020, first-tier and second-tier border villages had access to highways, all border townships and towns were connected to the main power grid, and all border villages had access to postal services, mobile communications, and safe drinking water," it said.
The document, however, did not specify the number of villages or counties which have been developed along the Tibet border.
Despite the development initiatives, the Chinese government stated in the white paper that "inhabitants of the contiguous areas experience harsh living and working conditions and a high incidence of poverty".
Notably, the Tibet region borders with the Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Uttarakhand and the Union territory of Jammu & Kashmir.
In the past, China has raised objections over the infrastructure development projects initiated in border areas of Arunachal Pradesh - with which Tibet shares the largest border. In 2013, it had also marked its dissent over Asian Development Bank's (ADB) funding of an irrigation project in the state.