Chinese president Xi Jinping has reportedly instructed officials to expedite the construction of the new USD 47.8 billion railway project connecting the country’s southwest Sichuan province to Linzhi in Tibet, close to the Indian border in Arunachal, saying it would play a key role in safeguarding stability in the border areas.
The Sichuan-Tibet railway will be the second railway line into Tibet after the Qinghai-Tibet railway project. It will go through the southeast of the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, one of the world’s most geologically active areas, according to the Chinese official media.
The Sichuan-Tibet railway starts from Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, and travels through Ya’an and enters Tibet via Qamdo, shortening the journey from Chengdu to Lhasa from 48 hours to 13 hours.
Linzhi, also known as Nyingchi, is located close to Arunachal border.
The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488-km-long line of actual control, the de facto border between the two countries. China claims Arunachal as part of south Tibet, which is firmly rejected by India.
Linzhi also has an airport, which is one of the five airports built by China in the Himalayan region.
The Ya’an-Linzhi section runs 1,011 kms with 26 stations. Trains are expected to run at speeds between 120 and 200 kms per hour. The total cost of the entire Sichuan-Tibet railway project is around 319.8 billion yuan (USD 47.8 billion), according to a recent report by the state-run Global Times.
In a videoconference ahead of the commencement of the construction of the project, Jinping identified it as a major measure in facilitating the ruling Communist Party’s general plan for governing Tibet in the new era, and stressed the project’s important role in safeguarding national unity, promoting ethnic solidarity and consolidating stability in border areas.
He gave the instruction ahead of the beginning of the construction of the Sichuan-Tibet railway’s Ya’an-Nyingchi section on November 8, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.