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Environment

A journey along the Chinese border – Metok

Zhu Mei

China has the longest land border in the world totaling more than 22,000 kilometers. Many of the border towns are diverse and share both Chinese and foreign characteristics. CGTN has collected 10 beautiful border cities and towns in China for tourists.

Wrapping up our last trip in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, let’s move further south and kick off an adventure journey in southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region. Metok or Medog is a border county of the Nyingchi Prefecture in southeast Tibet, sitting close to India. Due to its complex geographic and weather condition, Metok County is a paradise for adventure seekers.

Tourists would be amazed by the ecological environment in Metok County as it ranks first among all counties in China in terms of forest coverage, with a forest coverage rate of over 79.2 percent. Metok also boasts as many as 500 waterfalls with the famous ones include the U-shaped Waterfall, the Hanmi Waterfall and the Tiger`s Mouth Waterfall. The following are some recommended tourist spots and travel routes. 

An aerial view of the Metok County in Nyingchi Prefecture, southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region. /VCG Photo

Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon

Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon is the largest and deepest canyon in the world, 504.6 kilometers long and 6,009 meters deep at its deepest. The world highest river Yarlung Tsangpo River runs through a narrow passage between the two 7,000-meter high peaks of Namjagbarwa and Jialabailei, forming the canyon, located ninety percent in Metok County.

The canyon is regarded as “the Gene Pool of Biological Resources” as it is home to many living species. There are more than 3,500 species of plants and nearly 5,000 species of vegetation have already been found here. 

Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon in southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region. /VCG Photo

Mount Namjagbarwa

Regarded as “the father of glaciers”, Mount Namjagbarwa was named the top of the ten most beautiful mountains in China by Chinese National Geography in 2005. It is the highest peak in the eastern part of the Himalayas, with an altitude of 7782 meters.

Mount Namjagbarwa is also known as the “shy girl mountain” as its huge triangular peak covered by snow and clouds all year round never shows its true face. Mount Namjagbarwa stretches across the tropical and boreal regions, thus, it is also a “museum of natural history.”

Mount Namjagbarwa in southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region. /VCG Photo

China’s last county without a highway

Metok County is China’s last county with no highway link. Local people used to deliver supplies only by manpower. The terrible weather conditions like snow and rainstorm have made the construction of mountain roads extremely difficult.

In 1993, the Bome-Metok Highway was discarded only three days after its opening to the public because of a severe rainstorm. The renovation project commenced at the pass of the Galongla Snow Mountain in 2009. Finally, on October 31, 2013, the renovated highway was open to traffic officially, marking the end of Metok’s history without a permanent highway.

The monument of the Bome-Metok Highway in southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region. /VCG Photo

Trekking in Metok

The trekking route from Pai Village to Metok County is 78 kilometers, known as the No.1 challenging trekking route in China and is also the most attractive one. It usually takes three days to complete the whole path and trekkers need to climb across the Doxong La Snow Mountain with an altitude of 4200 meters. Trekkers are highly recommended to hire a professional guide to lead the adventure route. 

Source: https://news.cgtn.com/news/3d3d674e31557a4e33457a6333566d54/i

Art & Culture

Preserving Cultural Heritage: Hometown of Tibetan incense sees transformation

Located on the north shore of Yarlung Zangbo River in southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, Toinba township, Nyemo County is the hometown of Tibetan incense.

Toinba is the birthplace of Thumi Sambhota, who is not only the inventor of the Tibetan character but also the founder of the Tibetan incense. Toinba is famous for incense making, which has a history of more than 1,300 years. Tibetan incense is an important representation of Tibetan culture.

Nyemo’s Tibetan incense is used mainly at sacrificial ceremonies and also for mediation and relaxation. The incense is complicatedly blended with more than 30 herbs, including saffron, sandalwood, Chinese usnea and borneol.

Dhongrub is a local Tibetan incense artisan who has been making incense for more than forty years. The incense artisanship of Dhongrub’s family has passed down through four generations. Making Tibetan incense has brought Dhongrub income and other benefits.

Dhongrub is making Tibetan incense sticks. /Screenshot

“My eldest daughter successfully found a job after graduating from college and my youngest daughter is going to the college this year. These are the rewards of the Tibetan incense,” said Dhongrub. His youngest daughter also helps promote Tibetan incense online, letting more people know about its origin and history. 

A client wants to buy some Tibetan incense from Dhongrub. /Screenshot

As Dhongrub’s Tibetan incense business grows, his incense products have been sold inside and outside of Tibet. Since 2006, Nyemo County has promoted Tibetan incense as a main tourist souvenir and set up incense-themed tourism attractions. To help with poverty alleviation, the local government also established a Tibetan incense cooperative where Dhongrub teaches villagers incense artisanship. 

Dhongrub teaches villagers how to make Tibetan incense at the cooperative in Toinba township. /Screenshot 

“Tibetan incense has deeply influenced me, so it became an essential part of my life. I hope to carry on the traditional artisanship of Tibetan incense and develop it so that more and more people will know about Nyemo’s Tibetan incense,” said Dhongrub.     

International

China accelerates army activity in Tibet Autonomous Region

Increasing Chinese military activities in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) has set alarm bells in India. While its air presence has been a matter of concern over past several years, latest reports suggest construction of underground bomb-proof shelters to house fighter jets at Lhasa Gonggar airport.

So far intelligence report and images available through satellites suggested that airfields in Tibet were not optimised for offensive operations. But a recent report has suggested that the airports were being converted into military airbase. There are also reports of constructions of bomb-proof hangers dug deep inside the mountains nearby to hold around three squadrons of fighters or about 36 aircraft.

Chinese People’s Liberation Army (Air Force) has such facilities along its border with Russia. The underground bomb-proof facilities along the India-China border in the TAR region is a “new development”, defence sources admitted.

In addition, Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) bases near some of the airfields is also being augmented and expanded along with helicopter bases. The SAM base near Shigatse airfield situated across Sikkim in Tsang province of Tibet has also been augmented.

The new helicopter bases allow helicopters to take off and land with full payload. India has also been upgrading Advanced Landing Grounds (ALG) along its northern borders. These temporary airfields located in Walong, Mechuka, Tuting, Pasighat and Ziro in Arunachal Pradesh were built during the Second World War and have now been refurbished.

There are also reports of deployment of its Sukhoi-27 and J-10 fighter aircraft fleets for continuous operations during winter months in TAR that gives Chinese a “year round capability”. This is an important development because in the past China would only occupy forward airfields during the summers.

China PLA Air Force is also on a modernisation spree to ensure that more than 50 per cent of its fleet comprise advanced multi-role combat aircraft. “It has a credible mix of multi-role fighter and strike aircraft. They have got adequate reserve to replenish after attrition. They have multi-layered air defence systems and rocket forces that allow them (read China) to fight a ground campaign even without a decisive air victory,” sources added.

News To Worry

Chinese Air Force is on a modernisation spree to ensure more than 50 per cent of its fleet comprise advanced multi-role combat aircraft to enable them in fighting ground campaign as well.

Source: DNA with inputs from agencies

Politics

Congress president Rahul Gandhi, on a pilgrimage to the shrine, posted a series of pictures on Twitter

he first pictures of Rahul Gandhi on his Kailash-Mansarovar trip were shared on Friday by his Congress party and a fellow pilgrim. The Congress president, who is on a 12-day pilgrimage to the shrine, was without his security detail and standing with fellow pilgrims. Mr Gandhi, one of the most protected politicians in the country, chose not to take his security, say sources. He had informed the Special Protection Group about his decision to travel alone as he was on a personal pilgrimage, said sources close to Mr Gandhi.

Mr Gandhi, who has been sharing photos every day, began the day with his own post. “Shiva is the universe,” captioned the 48-year-old, who calls himself a Shiv-bhakt (shiva devotee).

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Congress President Rahul Gandhi during #KailashMansarovarYatra with other pilgrims

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According to a Congress post, their chief “trekked for 13 hours non-stop yesterday – a distance of about 34 km”. Rahul Gandhi chose to trek instead of going on horseback. A screen grab of his Fitbit was also shared on Twitter. 

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The 48-year-old Congress chief left for Kailash Mansarovar Yatra on August 31, in accordance with a wish he expressed in April, when his plane plunged hundreds of feet during the campaign for the Karnataka polls. Mr Gandhi is likely to cover a distance of 60 km on foot.

On September 5, Mr Gandhi posted a picture of Mount Kailash, saying “It is so humbling to be walking in the shadow of this giant.” Earlier he also shared pictures of the Lake Mansarovar saying “there is no hatred here.”

Shiva is the Universe. #KailashYatra

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It is so humbling to be walking in the shadow of this giant. #KailashYatra

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In other photos, Mr Gandhi is seen in jeans, jacket, a pair of sunglasses and a snapback cap. A video was also shared by a pilgrim, in which the politician was seen smiling, standing in a group, against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains.

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The waters of lake Mansarovar are so gentle, tranquil and calm. They give everything and lose nothing. Anyone can drink from them. There is no hatred here. This is why we worship these waters in India.#KailashYatra

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Rahul Gandhi has also tweeted photos of the breathtaking Mansarovar lake, surrounded by mountains earlier. “A man goes to Kailash when it calls him,” said a tweet. He described the waters of the Mansarovar Lake as “gentle, tranquil and calm.”

The Congress chief left for Kailash-Mansarovar on August 31, keeping a promise he had made in April, when his plane plunged hundreds of feet while flying him to a public meeting for the Karnataka polls.37 COMMENTS

Rahul Gandhi’s pilgrimage has come under sharp criticism from the BJP. The party questioned Mr Gandhi’s choice of route via Nepal. The BJP alleged that Mr Gandhi is visiting China and the government needs to know who he is meeting there. ( Source : NDTV)

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