Buddhist Times News – China to begin construction of the strategic Ya’an-Nyingtri railway line in Tibet

By  — Shyamal Sinha

China is set to begin construction of the strategic railway line connecting Ya’an in Sichuan Province and Nyingtri (Ch. Linzhi) in Tibet Autonomous Region according to Chinese state-run Global Times. The project is part of the larger Sichuan-Tibet railway line.

The Sichuan-Tibet Railway is the second such project in Tibet after the Qinghai-Tibet Railway. It will go through the southeast of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, one of the world’s most geologically active areas, a report by the state-run China News reported.

Linzhi, which is also known as Nyingchi, is located close to Arunachal Pradesh border. China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of southern Tibet while India contests it. Linzhi also has an airport, one of the five built by China in the Himalayan region.

The Ya’an-Nyingtri section runs 1,011 kilometres and will include 26 stations once completed. The total cost of the entire Sichuan-Tibet Railway project is around 319.8 billion yuan (USD 47.8 billion), Global Times reported.

“After the Sichuan-Tibet railway starts operation, Tibet will have more exchanges with other parts of the Chinese mainland. Strategically, China’s Tibetan region will have much stronger capabilities in material transportation and logistical supplies,” said Lin Minwang, deputy director at the Center for South Asian Studies at Fudan University.

The construction when completed, will provide logistical superiority to China linking the border regions near India’s Arunachal Pradesh, a hot-bed of disputed border claims by Beijing. Observers say that the project is in alignment with not only China’s economic prospects but military interests as well. The new railway line will cater to military transports and contribute to what China calls “border stability”.

Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University said, “If a scenario of a crisis happens at China-India border, the railway will provide great convenience for China’s delivery of strategic materials.”

The construction of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway is of strategic importance that benefits the overall development of Tibet, Xiong Kunxin, an ethnic studies professor at the Tibet University in Lhasa, said.

The Sichuan-Tibet Railway starts from Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, cuts through Ya’an and enters TAR via Chamdo (Ch. Qamdo), reducing the journey from Chengdu to Lhasa from 48 hours to 13 hours, the report said.

Both Sichuan and Tibet are rich in resources with their unique natural landscapes, huge mineral reserves, and a wide variety of medicinal herbs.

After the completion of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway, it is expected to greatly boost local tourism all along the line, it said.
“It will also enhance person-to-person exchanges between different regions and ethnic groups, promote understanding and cultural integration,” Xiong said.


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