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China announces 2nd rail link with Tibet

March 7, 2016

Reuters, March 5, 2016 - China will build a second railway line to Tibet, linking capital Lhasa with the south-western city of Chengdu, the Chinese government said on Saturday.

The new railway was announced in a draft of China’s new five-year development plan, released at the opening of the annual meeting of parliament and carried by the official Xinhua news agency. It gave no other details.

Xinhua said it would take about 15 hours for trains to travel between Lhasa and Chengdu.

Wangdui, the mayor of Tibet’s Nyingchi city, which is on the rail route, told Xinhua: “We hope that the railway will be completed as early as possible. It will provide new momentum for our development, especially the tourism.”

Many Tibetans continue to oppose Chinese control, but the region holds a strategic position next to India, Nepal and Myanmar.

In 2006, China opened a railway line to Lhasa as part of government development efforts. It passes through the spectacular Tibetan highlands, at altitudes as high as 5,000 metres (16,400ft) above sea level,

Critics of the railway, including exiled Tibetans and rights groups, say it has spurred an influx of long-term migrants who threaten Tibetans’ cultural integrity, which rests on Buddhist beliefs and a traditional herding lifestyle.

The Chinese government consistently denies any rights abuses or cultural disrespect in Tibet, saying Beijing’s rule has bought much-needed development.

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