(TibetanReview.net, Mar25’21) – China has reiterated Mar 25 that it will open a railway linking Nyingchi (Tibetan: Nyingtri) and Lhasa in the Tibet Autonomous Region by the end of June this year. It is a section of a highly costly and geologically difficult to build but highly strategic line that will eventually connect Sichuan’s capital Chengdu with the Tibetan capital Lhasa.
But the critical China-Tibet linkage of the railway line is not likely to materialize for another 10 years or so.
“Construction of the (Sichuan-Tibet) line will last for more than 10 years due to the complicated geological and climate conditions and fragile ecology,” China’s official global.chinadaily.com.cn Mar 25 quoted Wang Yang, China’s Transport Ministry’s chief planning officer as saying at a news conference in Beijing.
As reported earlier, the 1,838-kilometer Sichuan-Tibet railway project has been divided into three parts for construction and operation. The section linking Chengdu and Ya’an in Sichuan opened in Dec 2018. Construction of the 435-km section linking Nyingchi and Lhasa began in 2015. And work on the middle and most challenging section, connecting Ya’an in China and Nyingchi in Tibet, began in Nov 2020.
Wang has said his ministry has been building roads to support construction of the line.
The report noted that the Sichuan-Tibet railway was a major transport construction project during China’s 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25).
Chinese experts have earlier said the railway was more than anything else a border security project while President Xi Jinping had called for a speedy and qualitative execution of the project. The railway is also seen to play a vital role in transporting minerals from Tibet to China and bringing an influx of Chinese immigrants to Tibet.
Nyingchi is located 40 km away from the border of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. And the rail line itself runs much closer to the border than that at some points. The PLA’s 52nd and 53rd Mountain Infantry Brigades are based in the Nyingchi Prefecture, noted a swarajyamag.com report Feb 17.