Apart from opening up Tibet for rail and air transport of goods and people, China says its efforts to invest massively to open up its counties and villages by road networks will continue.
It is expected that by the end of 2010, 80% of Tibetan counties will be paved by blacktop or cement roads while all townships and over 80% of the villages would be connected with highways. This news was confirmed by China’s Online Tibet news service.
The report said convenient highway access would increase passenger capacity by 107 times and cargo handling capacity by 11 times from the figures in 1959.
The report put the current total length of highways in the Tibet Autonomous Region at 51,300 km, an addition of 44,000 over the length in 1959. It said China had spent RMB350 million from 1979 to 2009 to add a total of 328,000 km of national highways, major traffic trunks and roads in villages and counties.
Tibetan Review said Lhasa was already the center of a transportation network which extends to Sichuan, Yunnan, Xinjiang and Qinghai as well as Nepal. It is impossible to simplify it as a good thing — bringing modernity to Tibet — or a bad thing — bringing to an end a traditional way of living. The issues are complex and the answers will not be readily apparent for some years.