(TibetanReview.net, Feb24’21) – China has for the first time made it clear that its geologically highly challenging Sichuan-Tibet Railway, which will run close by occupied Tibet’s border with India, is a border defence project, according to the official globaltimes.cn Feb 23. It cited the state planning organization as vowing recently to strengthen the construction of railway projects “that aim for border defense”.
The announcement was stated to be part of the budget plan that the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) released for the railways, which analysts have seen a indicating the involvement of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway plan.
“The Sichuan-Tibet Railway is a fundamental railway project directly linked to border defense,” the report quoted Zhao Jian, a professor with Beijing Jiaotong University, as saying.
The railway, which extends more than 1,740 kilometers from Sichuan’s capital Chengdu to Tibet’s capital Lhasa, is the second one running between China and Tibet; the other one being the Qinghai-Tibet Railway already running.
The section of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway within China is already running while the one within Tibet is set for completion this year.
The construction of the Ya’an-Nyingchi section between China and Tibet, which is the most difficult one, began only in Nov 2020.
Referring to the strategic significance of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway, the report quoted Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, as having said in an earlier interview, “if a crisis scenario happens at the China-India border, the railway will provide great convenience for China’s delivery of strategic materials.”
The report said China’s railway operator had listed promoting the construction of the Sichuan-Tibet railway project with high quality as one of the key projects in 2021.