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Tibet in Review

Lhasa-China’s Railway Stretches Rapidly towards South Asia

The Qinghai Tibet Railway, which was previously deemed impossible, had been completed. Since then, China has not waited long to stretch its iron dragon towards Nepali and Indian borders. Chinese media has recently declared Lhasa-Shigatse railway project to be fully constructed by the end of this year, which would be followed immediately by Lhasa to Nyingtri railway project. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has spoken during his recent visit to India about establishing an economy corridor between Bangladesh, China, India, and Burma. Many suspect this as China’s strategy to infiltrate and benefit economically while using various railroads as the ultimate corridor. Professor Manoranjan Mohanti, one of India’s leading scholars on China and the recipient of China-India Friendship Award from Wen Jiabao in 2010, explains that the Lhasa-Shigatse railway is part of a project that will link China with its neighboring South East Asian countries. Talking to Tibet in Review, Professor Mohanti has mentioned the inevitability and necessity of the two nations to be connected via railways. He believes the railroads to be beneficial for both parties; India and China. However, his approach and sentiments are not shared unanimously. Professor Sumit Ganguly at Indiana University, another prominent scholar on India-China relations, has a different stance on this recent development. He does not believe India is genuinely enthusiastic about the plan. “Under the present circumstance, I don’t see why India will permit that,” he tells Tibet in Review. He believes India’s security will be at stake, should they permit the construction of railroads. He understood India and China can talk cordially at joint press conferences, but they share nothing in common to be friends. When asked his opinion regarding a peaceful settlement between the two country’s border issues, he says, “Not in my lifetime.” The railway project from Kongming towards the South East Asia, which was initiated in 2011 is aimed to reach Singapore by the year 2020. In the meantime, China Tibet online and Qinghai Tibet Radio reported that one side of the Lhasa to Shigatse railway line is now linked to the Qinghai Tibet Rail track. Their operation is expected to begin in early 2014.