Xi calls construction of Sichuan-Tibet railway significant to unity and border stability

▲A track laying machine works at the construction site of the section between Lhasa and Nyingchi of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway in Gonggar County of southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, Oct. 16, 2018. (Xinhua/Purbu Zhaxi)

Experts hailed the Sichuan-Tibet Railway as an “infrastructure miracle” in connecting people and safeguarding border stability, following Chinese President Xi Jinping’s remarks to advance the construction of the project with high quality. Xi called the project a major step in safeguarding national unity and a significant move in promoting economic and social development of western region.

Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, gave the instruction ahead of the beginning of the construction of the railway’s Ya’an-Nyingchi section on Sunday, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

The Sichuan-Tibet Railway is a strategic, 1,011-kilometer-long rail link running from Ya’an in Sichuan Province to Nyingchi in Southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region – a project set to benefit many in the region, media said.

Xi said that the difficulty involved in the construction is rarely seen elsewhere, due to the complex geological and climatic conditions and fragile ecological environment along the railway. As a result, Xi stressed that it is necessary to make full use of the advantages of China’s socialist system, which can concentrate resources to accomplish a major task.

The Sichuan-Tibet Railway will be the second railway 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. Premier Li Keqiang pointed out that the construction of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway is a major strategic plan put forward by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council based on the overall situation and with a long-term perspective.

According to information garnered about the bid, it will take 10 years to complete the project, which is expected to be completed in 2030.

Zhu Weiqun, former head of the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, called the project a new “infrastructure miracle” after the Qinghai-Tibet railway.

Zhu recalled his recent journey to the Ya’an-Nyingchi section, saying that the complex geological conditions with ravines and alp made him impressed, shocked and proud of the project which must be extraordinarily tough. “The project reflects China’s world-leading infrastructure capabilities.”

The railway can help transport advanced equipment and technologies from the rest of China to Tibet, and bring local products out, thus driving the local economy and providing more convenience for its people, Zhu said.

As Sichuan and Tibet are rich in resources with their unique natural landscapes, huge mineral reserves and a wide variety of medicinal herbs, the areas along the railway is expected to become a “tourism heaven,” Zhu said.

The project can enhance person-to-person exchanges between different regions and ethnic groups, promote understanding and cultural integration, which can further strengthen the national unity, Xiong Kunxin, an ethnic studies professor at the Tibet University in Lhasa, told the Global Times on Sunday..

The railway is also of great significance in safeguarding national unity and consolidating border stability, experts stressed.

As the railway runs near China’s southwest border areas, it will largely improve the efficiency and convenience of military personnel and material transportation and logical supplies, Xiong said.

If a scenario of a crisis happens at the border, the railway can act as a “fast track” for the delivery of strategic materials, Zhu noted.

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

With a designed speed from 120 to 200 kilometers per hour, the 1,011-kilometer section between Ya’an and NyingChi is the third part of the railway, which will be carried out by the China State Railway Group Co Ltd, Xinhua reported. 

The project’s Chengdu-Ya’an section became operational in December 2018, and the construction of the Lhasa-Nyingchi section started in June 2015. 

Newspaper headline: Xi hails Sichuan-Tibet Railway

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