China’s new Five-Year Plan

China has formally approved its 14th five-year plan for 2021-2025 on March 11, 2021. The draft outline was passed by the National People’s Congress.

Key Points

The new five-year plan highlights a number of key strategic projects that the country will pursue as a priority. The project also includes:

  1. Construction of the first hydropower dam in Tibet on lower reaches of Brahmaputra or Yarlung Zangbo. This section refers to a section of river in Tibet just before entering into India.
  2. Constructing the Sichuan-Tibet railway line near the border with India.
  3. The plan also pushes for attaining a self-sufficiency in emerging industries including the Artificial Intelligence (AI).
  4. The plan also emphasised to open up the access to the key border highways including the G219 national highway which runs along entire length of India-China border in Xinjiang and Tibet region.

India’s concern

China had also approved four dams on the upper and middle reaches.  The Hydropower dam in Tibet will be the first dam on the lower reaches of the Brahmaputra. However, India has expressed its concerns on the four previously announced dams on upper and middle reaches of the Brahmaputra River.  The first of the dam called, Zangmu, was operationalised in the year 2015. The Indian side is also monitoring the flows of river and construction of the dam on lower reaches using the hydrological data that China provides in accordance with the bilateral arrangement between India and China. The officials have however highlighted that, the Brahmaputra is not entirely dependent on the upstream flows. 35% of the basis is in India.

Issues with the newly announced dam

China has announced to construct the Dams possibly on lower reaches and at Great Bend of river Brahmaputra near border. This is a cause of worry because this location across the border from Arunachal Pradesh in an ecologically sensitive region.

Sichuan-Tibet railway

The five-year plan also highlighted that the railway from Ya’an in Sichuan to Nyingchi in Tibet is a key infrastructure project. China has also called to advance the preparatory work in order to build a railway line from Xigaze in Tibet along Tibet-Nepal border.

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