China plan­ning new rail link to Arunachal Pradesh

The Political and Business Daily - - WORLD - KJM VARMA

CHINA will soon start con­struc­tion of a new rail­way line in Ti­bet close to Arunachal Pradesh, even as another rail link bor­der­ing Sikkim is set to be­come op­er­a­tional next month, en­hanc­ing mo­bil­ity of its mil­i­tary in the re­mote and strate­gic Hi­malayan re­gion.

"Sky rail to run from Lhasa to South Ti­bet," state-run Global Times said in a front page re­port to­day, high­light­ing China's claims over Arunachal Pradesh with ob­ser­va­tions from Chi­nese an­a­lysts that the new rail net­work along the dis­puted border could act as a "bar­gain­ing chip" in the boundary ne­go­ti­a­tions with In­dia.

The rail line con­nect­ing Ti­bet's provin­cial cap­i­tal Lhasa with Xigaze close to the In­dian border in Sikkim as well as Nepal and Bhutan which is cur­rently un­der tri­als would be­come op­er­a­tional next month, the re­port said.

Another rail­way line link­ing Lhasa to Ny­ingchi in the east is also ex­pected to start con­struc­tion soon, it said.

Ny­ingchi is lo­cated right on top of Arunachal Pradesh, the near­est area to the border.

The rail­way ex­pan­sion will con­nect, Nepal, Bhutan and In­dia by 2020, the re­port said.

Yang Yulin, deputy direc­tor of the rail­way of­fice of Ti­bet said dur­ing the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) pe­riod, the con­struc­tion of a rail­way con­nect­ing Shigatse with Gyirong county (close to Nepal), which has a check­point con­nect­ing Nepal and Yatung county (close to In­dian border near Sikkim and Bhutan), a trade cen­tre bor­der­ing In­dia and Bhutan, will start.

The rail link be­tween Lhasa and Shigatse, the home of pro-Bei­jing Pan­chan Lama, stated to be sec­ond im­por­tant Monk in Ti­betan hi­er­ar­chy is an ex­ten­sion of the Qing­haiTi­bet Rail­way that runs from Xin­ing, Qing­hai Province to Lhasa.

It will in­clude 13 sta­tions with al­ti­tudes rang­ing from 3,600 to 4,000 me­tres.

The trains are ex­pected to run on the ex­ten­sion line at a speed of 120 kilo­me­tres per hour. It is the largest in­fra­struc­ture project dur­ing the 12th FiveYear Plan (2011-2015) with an in­vest­ment of more than 10.8 bil­lion yuan (USD 1.7 bil­lion), Yang said.

Sig­nif­i­cantly, the Global Times, the rul­ing Com­mu­nist Party of China-run tabloid which of­ten strikes na­tion­al­is­tic pos­tures high­lighted Bei­jing's claims over the area in the write up on the new rail net­work close to the In­dian bor­ders.—

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