High­way in Ti­bet opens South Asia to China

Global Times US Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Liu Caiyu

The Ti­bet high­way be­tween Xigaze air­port and Xigaze city cen­ter of­fi­cially opened to the public on Fri­day, a short sec­tion link­ing the na­tional high­way to the Nepal bor­der which ex­perts said will en­able China to forge a route into South Asia in both eco­nomic and de­fense terms.

The 40.4-kilo­me­ter high­way will shorten the jour­ney

from an hour to 30 min­utes be­tween the dual-use civil and mil­i­tary air­port and Ti­bet’s sec­ond-largest city, the Ti­bet Fi­nan­cial Daily re­ported Sun­day.

The new road runs par­al­lel with the XigazeLhasa rail­way and links the city’s ring roads with the 5,476-kilo­me­ter G318 high­way from Shang­hai to Zhangmu on the Nepal bor­der. As part of G318, the high­way con­nects the bor­der town of Zhangmu with Lhasa, the cap­i­tal city of south­west China’s Ti­bet Au­ton­o­mous Re­gion. It can link with the fu­ture cross-bor­der Sino-Nepali rail­way, said Zhao Gancheng, di­rec­tor of the Cen­ter for Asia-Pa­cific Stud­ies at the Shang­hai In­sti­tute for In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies.

The Sino-Nepali rail­way was part of a deal struck by Nepal Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Kr­ishna Ba­hadur Ma­hara when he vis­ited China in early Septem­ber. The rail­way in­cludes two lines: one con­nect­ing three of Nepal’s most im­por­tant cities and two cross­ing the bor­der be­tween China and Nepal, the Peo­ple’s Daily re­ported.

The Sino-Nepali rail­way, which passes through the Chi­nese bor­der town of Zhangmu and con­nects with routes in Nepal, will be the first rail­way by which China en­ters South Asia, Zhao said. “Although the rail­way con­nec­tion be­tween China and Nepal is in­tended to boost re­gional devel­op­ment and not for mil­i­tary pur­poses, the move will still prob­a­bly ir­ri­tate In­dia.”

In­dia is al­ways dis­gusted when neigh­bor­ing coun­tries at­tempt to get closer to China, Zhao ex­plained.

The 25-me­ter-wide high­way be­tween Xigaze peace air­port and Xigaze has four dou­ble lanes and is clas­si­fied a first-tier high­way, the Ti­bet Fi­nan­cial Daily re­ported. “High­ways in China are of a high stan­dard in­clud­ing the one in Ti­bet,” Zhao said. “It can be used by ar­mored ve­hi­cles and as a run­way for planes to take off when it has to serve a mil­i­tary pur­pose.”

Eco­nomic ben­e­fits

“The road is Ti­bet’s first real high­way. It is our gift to­ward the up­com­ing 19th Na­tional Congress of the Com­mu­nist Party of China,” said Wei Qiang­gao, deputy head of the Ti­bet trans­porta­tion depart­ment, news por­tal east­day.com re­ported.

As an im­por­tant traf­fic program in the 13th Five-Year Plan and a core sec­tion of the Ti­bet Au­ton­o­mous Re­gion’s high­way net­work, the road will ben­e­fit the ex­port-ori­ented econ­omy of Xigaze and the com­plex traf­fic around Lhasa, Wei said.

Over five years, the stan­dard of high­ways in Ti­bet and the traf­fic net­work have been grad­u­ally im­proved, Xin­hua re­ported on Fri­day quot­ing Wang Jinhe, an­other of­fi­cial from the Ti­bet trans­porta­tion depart­ment. The to­tal high­way mileage in Ti­bet reached more than 80,000 kilo­me­ters in 2016, in­creas­ing nearly 19,000 kilo­me­ters since 2011, Wang said. Traf­fic in­fra­struc­ture con­struc­tion will im­prove the econ­omy by link­ing air­portroad busi­nesses with city-to-city busi­nesses, Wang Daiyuan, a pro­fes­sor from the Ti­bet Academy of So­cial Sciences told the Global Times.

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