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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

Qinghai-Tibet railway extensions necessary

March 8, 2008

Special Report: NPC, CPPCC Annual Sessions 2008

BEIJING, March 4 (Xinhua) -- Construction of Qinghai-Tibet railway
extensions is "quite necessary", said Qiangba Puncog, chairman of
Tibet Autonomous Region, on Tuesday.

"We will fully tap the potential of railway in the region, and we hope
the extensions linking Lhasa to Xigaze and Nyingchi would bring more
benefits to the Tibetan people," said Qiangba Puncog, who is a deputy
to the 11th National People's Congress, China's top legislature.

The 1,956-km Qinghai-Tibet Railway has had profound influence on the
Tibetan people since it was put into operation in July 2006,ending the
history of the region without railway, noted the chairman.

Tourism industry in the landlocked plateau was greatly boosted, as
Tibet chalked up 4 million plus of tourists in 2007, about 1 million
more than estimated. Tourism revenue surged 73.3 percent year-on-year
to 4.8 billion yuan (about 676 million U.S. dollars) last year,
accounting for about 14 percent of the gross domestic product in the
southwestern region.

The railway helped shorten regional difference in cost, drawing more
investment to Tibet. Last year Tibet took in non-governmental
investment of 8.45 billion yuan (about 1.2 billion U.S. dollars), 29
percent up from 2006.

"The railway also offered more job opportunities for local workforces,
and people saw hope of faster development of Tibet," said Qiangba

However, the vast region taking up one eighth of China's territory in
size is still in need of capital for development, he said.

The legislator disclosed that preparations for the Lhasa-Xigaze
railway had completed while the construction plan was undergoing
approval from the central government.

The 254-km extension line, the first feeder for the Qinghai-Tibet
Railway, is planned to start this year and expected to be completed in
2010, according to an earlier report.
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