Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Defence White Paper on Tibet

PLA and PAPF in Eastern Tibet
The Information Office of the State Council has just published a white paper on China's armed forces entitled The Diversified Employment of China's Armed Forces.
It is the 8th Defence White Paper (WP) published during the past 15 years, by the State Council.
The new document states that the country faces ‘multiple and complicated’ security threats, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.
But the Ministry of National Defence pledges to build a strong military "commensurate with China's international standing, and to meet the needs of its security and development interests".
It criticizes America's pivot in the Asia-Pacific region: "Some countries are strengthening their Asia-Pacific military alliances and expanding their military presence in the region, frequently making the situation there more tense.”
It notes that by adjusting its Asia-Pacific security strategy, the United States bring about ‘profound changes’ in the regional landscape.
The WP accuses Japan of being a trouble maker over the Diaoyu Islands located in the East China Sea: “On the issues concerning China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, some neighbouring countries are taking actions that complicate or exacerbate the situation, and Japan is making trouble over the Diaoyu Islands issue."
At a press conference on the occasion of the WP’s release, Senior Colonel Wu Xihua, deputy director of the PLA general staff's crisis management office affirmed that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) would retaliate if China's core interests were infringed: “We oppose wars and never hope to engage in them. But if someone imposes a war upon us, we should be determined to fight and win."
Though there is no special chapter on Tibet, the ‘T’ word is mentioned a few times, mainly in a section entitled: “Supporting key infrastructure projects”. It has implications for India as these ‘key projects’ are roads or dams located in border areas.
The WP admits that the Armed Forces (the PLA and the paramilitary People’s Armed Police Force or PAPF) are regularly involved in the construction of strategic roads and hydropower plants.
The WP says: “China's armed forces bring into full play the advantages of hydroelectric, transportation, engineering and cartographic units, and support national and local infrastructure construction related to national economy and people's livelihood in such areas as transportation, water conservancy, energy and communications. Since 2011, the PLA and PAPF have contributed more than 15 million work days and over 1.2 million motor vehicles and machines, and have been involved in more than 350 major province-level (and above) projects of building airports, highways, railways and water conservancy facilities. The PAPF hydroelectric units have partaken in the construction of 115 projects concerning water conservancy, hydropower, railways and gas pipelines in Nuozhadu (Yunnan), Jinping (Sichuan) and Pangduo (Tibet)."
The Nuozhadu project is a dam under construction on the Mekong River (known as Lancang in Chinese) in Yunnan Province. The dam will have a height of 261 m and a reservoir with a normal capacity of 21,749,000,000 m3. The objectives of the dam are to produce hydroelectric power as well to control floods. The project will have nine generators, each with a capacity of 650 MW (totally generating 5,850 MW). The project should be functional in 2015.
The Jinping-I Hydropower Station is also a large hydroelectric project on the ‘Jinping Bend’ of the Yalong River in Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan Province. The construction began in 2005 and when complete, it will have a 3,600 MW capacity. This arch dam will be 305 m tall, it will be the tallest in the world. The project's objective is to supply energy for expanding industrialization and urbanization, improve flood protection, and prevent erosion. The reservoir began filling on 30 November 2012, but full electrical power capability is not expected before 2015.
The third project where the Chinese defence forces are namely involved is the Pangduo hydropower plant near Lhasa. According to Xinhua, the Pangduo project is “the largest water control project is now under construction in Tibet Autonomous Region. The first phase of construction has almost been completed, setting a world record of the deepest cutoff wall for as deep as 158 meters, according to the project management office.”
Kong Xiangsheng, chief engineer of the project management office told the Chinese news agency: “This wall is 22 meters deeper than the previously constructed one as Japan's Rainbow Bridge …The seepage-proof wall for Pangduo Project is considered as the largest, deepest and most difficult underground cutoff wall under construction in China."
The construction site is located at 4,100 meters above the sea level.
In terms of investment, the Pangduo Hydro Project is the largest ever undertaken in Tibet. The construction of Pangduo Project was launched on July 15, 2009, and expected to be completed in 2016.
The WP continues: “In addition, PAPF transportation units have undertaken the construction of 172 projects, including highways in the Tianshan Mountains in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, the double-deck viaduct bridge over the Luotang River in Gansu Province and the Galungla Tunnel along the Medog Highway in the Tibet Autonomous Region, with a total length of 3,250 km.”
Yesterday, I mentioned that the Metok (or Medog) tunnel which has serious strategic implications for India, as it is located just north of the McMahon Line.
In a section entitled: “Promoting ecological progress and protecting the environment”, the WP informs us: “The PLA, militia and reserve organic troops are organized to help afforest barren hills, control desertification and preserve wetlands. Specifically, they have supported the construction of key national reserves and ecological engineering projects such as controlling the sources of sandstorms affecting Beijing and Tianjin, afforesting the periphery of the Taklimakan Desert, protecting the ecological environment of the upper and middle reaches of the Yangtse and Yellow rivers, and harnessing the Yarlung Zangbo, Lhasa and Nyangqu rivers in Tibet.”
‘Harnessing’ seems to indicate ‘damming’ these rivers. While the dams on the Yarlung Tsangpo (or Zangbo or Brahmaputra) are well documented, the ones on the Nyang River (Nyangqu in Chinese) are less.
The Nyang is the longest tributary of the Yarlung Tsangpo River in south-west Tibet. It has a length of 307 km and originates at 5,000 meters above the sea level, west of the Mila Mountain. The river joins the Yarlung Tsangpo in Nyingchi prefecture. With a drop height of 2,273 meters, an average flow of 538 cubic meters per minute and a yearly flux of 22 billion cubic meters, the river boasts a hydropower capacity of 2.08 million kilowatts.
It is a sacred river for the people of Kongpo.
Its largest tributary is the Ba River. It flows past the town of Bayi where it is crossed by the Bayi Zanchen bridge.
The WP affirms: “Over the past two years, the PLA and PAPF have planted over 14 million trees, and afforested above three million mu of barren hills and beaches by large-scale planting and aerial seeding. Besides, technical units specializing in cartography, meteorology, and water supply provide such services as cartographic surveying, weather and hydrological forecasting, and water source exploration for local people."
Further, the WP affirms that the defence forces support “scientific and technological, educational, cultural and health undertakings”.
It quotes: “From 2011 to 2012, military academies, research institutions and specialized technical units undertook more than 200 research subjects including national major projects and key technology R&D programs; participated in 220 projects tackling key scientific and technological problems; and transferred 180 technologies. A total of 108 PLA and PAPF hospitals have paired up with 130 county-level hospitals in poverty-stricken areas in the western parts of the country, while medical and health units below the corps level have paired up with 1,283 clinics and health centers in towns and townships. From 2009 to 2012, the armed forces financed and built 57 "August 1" schools particularly in areas inhabited by ethnic minorities in the western parts of the country, such as Xinjiang and Tibet, providing schooling for over 30,000 children.”
There is no doubt the so-called ‘August 1’ (Bayi) school are mainly for the children of the troops posted in Tibet and Xinjiang.
‘August 1’ refers to the foundation of the People’s Liberation Army on August 1, 1927. The ‘Bayi’ franchise is exclusively reserved to the PLA.
The main Bayi town in Tibet is located in the Nyingchi prefecture, north of the Indian border of Arunachal Pradesh.
It clearly shows that the PLA and the PAPF are not doing philanthropic work on the borders: their objective is “to win local wars under the conditions of informationization and expanding and intensifying military preparedness.”
The WP clearly explains: “China's armed forces firmly base their military preparedness on winning local wars under the conditions of informationization, make overall and coordinated plans to promote military preparedness in all strategic directions, intensify the joint employment of different services and arms, and enhance warfighting capabilities based on information systems.”
For the purpose: “They constantly bring forward new ideas for the strategies and tactics of people's war, advance integrated civilian-military development, and enhance the quality of national defense mobilization and reserve force building.”
The dams and the roads are part of China’s ‘preparedness’ to win a war.
Though Tibet is not namely mentioned, the PAPF plays an role in the restive region. The WP says: "as stipulated by law, perform their duties of maintaining national security and stability, steadfastly subduing subversive and sabotage attempts by hostile forces, cracking down on violent and terrorist activities, and accomplishing security-provision and guarding tasks."
These different headings keep the forces busy in Tibet.
PAPF near Jokhang Cathedral in Lhasa
As the WP puts it: "The PAPF is the state's backbone and shock force in handling public emergencies and maintaining social stability. The Law of the People's Republic of China on the People's Armed Police Force, promulgated in August 2009, specifies the scope, measures and support of PAPF security missions. With mobile PAPF troops as the mainstay, supplemented by forces pooled from routine duty units, and supported by various police forces and PAPF academies, the PAPF has established a force structure for stability maintenance and emergency response. In addition, a counter-terrorism force structure has been set up, which consists of a counter-terrorism contingent, special-duty squadrons, special-duty platoons and emergency-response squads at state, province, municipality and county levels, respectively."
One understands that the PAPF's budget is larger than the PLA's!


Anonymous said...

Great blog. So informative. Please keep up the writing!

Verena said...

This is cool!