Construction of Sichuan–Tibet railway to boost local development and border stability

▲Photo: Xinhua

 Construction of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway between Ya’an, Southwest China’s Sichuan Province and Linzhi, Southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region is set to begin, China News reported on Saturday. It indicates that the construction of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway will officially start. 

The Sichuan-Tibet Railway will not only accelerate and enhance overall economic development of the Tibet region, but will play an important role in safeguarding border stability, observers told the Global Times.

China Railway announced on Saturday the bidding results for the construction of two tunnels and one bridge, as well as the power supply project for the Ya’an-Linzhi section, indicating that construction of the project is about to begin.

The newly-built Ya’an-Linzhi section runs 1,011 kilometers and includes 26 stations. Trains are expected to run at speeds between 120 and 200 kilometers per hour, a staffer in charge of the project revealed. The total cost of the entire Sichuan-Tibet Railway project is around 319.8 billion yuan ($47.8 billion). 

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, told the Global Times on Saturday.

As a major infrastructure project, the railway is set to improve transport that has hindered exchanges between the Tibet region and the rest of China, which could help transport advanced equipment and technologies from other places to Tibet, and bring local products out, Xiong noted. 

Observers said the new railway line will put Tibet on a “fast track” to catch up with other more developed regions of China. 

Both Sichuan and Tibet are rich in resources with their unique natural landscapes, huge mineral reserves, and a wide variety of medicinal herbs, observers noted. After the completion of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway, it is expected to greatly boost local tourism all along the line. 

“It will also enhance person-to-person exchanges between different regions and ethnic groups, promote understanding and cultural integration,” Xiong said. 

The Sichuan-Tibet railway is also of great significance in safeguarding national unity and maintaining border stability, Chinese experts told the Global Times.

“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, Lin Minwang, deputy director at the Center for South Asian Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times on Saturday.

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

The Sichuan-Tibet Railway will be the second railway into Southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region 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.

The Sichuan-Tibet Railway starts from Chengdu, capital of Southwest China’s Sichuan Province, travelling through Ya’an and enters Tibet via Qamdo, shortening the journey from Chengdu to Lhasa from 48 hours to 13 hours.

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