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Chinese Rail Track 'Threat' To Security

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 02/09/02; Sepember 2, 2002.]

Shimla, Monday, September 02, 2002 (Tribune News Service) - The Tibetan Youth Congress has expressed concern over the decision of the Chinese Government to build a 2,600-km-long rail track from Gormud to Lhasa which will not only destroy the fragile Himalayan environment but also pose a serious threat to India's security.

The 33rd working committee meeting of the Congress, which concluded here yesterday, observed that the project involving construction of about 70 tunnels and 150 bridges in a rocky terrain was not only difficult to execute but also economically unviable. However, the Chinese wanted to implement it as a strategic project to maintain its huge army and other personnel in Tibet and step up the demographic aggression to reduce the native Tibetans to a hopeless minority. It will also facilitate quick movement of troops and military equipment in case of a conflict with India.

Mr Kalsang Phuntsok, President of the Congress, said the environmental fallout of the large-scale construction activity, particularly the boring of tunnels, on the "roof of the world" would not be confined to Tibet but extend to the neighbouring countries which survived on the river system originating from the region.

There was an economic angle to it, too, as besides the Lhasa rail track, two other tracks were being constructed along the Indian border - one on the Ladakh side and the other across Arunachal. The Chinese would be able to market their goods, which were quite cheep, on a large-scale. It could spell doom for the Indian industry, as it would not be able to compete with China in the price war.

The Congress disapproved of the approach of the Tibetan government-in-exile in resolving the issue of Tibet. It maintained the willingness of the government-in-exile to settle for a "meaningful autonomy" instead of complete independence for Tibet was hurting the freedom movement. The Tibetan youth, who were fighting for independence, felt discouraged. They saw no point in pursuing a struggle for an autonomous state as the country would remain under the Chinese rule.

It passed a resolution calling for total independence for Tibet and urged the government-in-exile to review its stand on the issue.

It also took notice of the plight of the Tibetans in Tibet who were being denied basic human rights and subjected to repression.

As many as 90 representatives from 42 regional chapters of the Congress from the USA, India, Bhutan and Nepal participated in the meeting. The Congress is the largest Tibetan non-governmental organisation with over 20,000 members all over the world.

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