China inaugurates new Tibet rail link near Sikkim border
China opened its second railway line in Tibet, constructed at a cost of $ 2.16 billion, close to Indian border in Sikkim. The rail link will make efficient mobility of its military in the remote and strategic Himalayan region.
The railway line stretched over 253 km connects Tibet’s provincial capital Lhasa with Xigaze, the second-largest city in Tibet and also the traditional seat of the pro-Beijing Panchen Lama – considered second important Monk in Tibetan hierarchy.
The rail link close to the Indian border in Sikkim is also near China’s border with Nepal and Bhutan. It cuts the travel time between Lhasa and Xigaze from the current 4 hours by road to around 2 hours. The line is the second railway line in Tibet and an extension of the Qinghai-Tibet railway, the world’s highest rail link connecting China’s mainland with Tibet.
Tibet is a highly sensitive region, not just because of continued local opposition to Chinese authority and contro, but because of its strategic position next to neighbors India, Nepal and Myanmar.
China’s other Rail Links close to India
- China launched the railway to Lhasa which passes icy mountains on the Tibetan highlands, reaching altitudes as high as 5,000 m (16,400 ft) above sea level.
- China plans to build a new important railway line in Tibet close to Arunachal Pradesh, which Chinese analysts say could act as a “bargaining chip” during the border negotiations with India.
- China is also expected to start the construction of another railway line linking Lhasa to Nyingchi in the east. Nyingchi is located near Arunachal Pradesh, the closest area to the border. The railway expansion will link Nepal, Bhutan and India by 2020.
- China will construct a railway linking Xigaze with Gyirong County near Nepal under its five year plan ending 2020. Gyirong county has a checkpoint connecting Nepal and Yatung county, close to Indian border near Sikkim and Bhutan, a trade centre bordering India and Bhutan.