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Tibetans Slam Beijing's Nod to Rail Track

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 01/05/17; May 17, 2001.]

Hindustan Times, India, May 15

Tibetan Government in exile has slammed Beijing's decision to lay a 1,118 km railway line to connect Tibet with Chinese mainland. The $2.34 billion project was a move to cement the Chinese rule over Tibet and it would have its bearing on the security of neighbouring countries, the Tibetans said today.

The government-in-exile has called upon the Tibetans start a campaign against the project Lhasa-Golmud railway line and three other proposed railway lines to connect Tibet with China.

Minister of Information and International Relations of the Central Tibetan Administration T.C. Tethong said the railroad would devastate Tibet and jeopardise the security of neighbours. The decisions to go ahead with the rail line, despite experts warning about its unsustainability, would be a security concern as it would enormously increase Chinese ability to move troops and supplies across the vast Tibetan plateau, Tethong said.

The government-in exile said this project was a part of Beijing's geo-political strategy. For after its completion, Tethong said the cost of maintaining Chinese troops deployed along the border with India will be reduced by 80 per cent.

Tethong observed the proposed Lhasa-Golmud railway line would bring in more Chinese settlers to Tibet and Tibet92s untapped natural resources would find their way into China.

"Tibet itself will go the Inner Mongolia and Manchuria way, totally swamped by Chinese and completely Sinoised," The Lhasa-Golmud railway line is one of the four lines proposed to link Tibet with China. Tipped to be the highest track in the world, it will run through over 5,000 meter high mountains and will pass through 30 bridges and tunnels.

The decision was taken in March this year and the construction work is likely to begin by next month. Plans to connect Tibet with China by rail have been discussed since 1950s. The plans, however, were shelved because technology to lay a line through high peaks was not available. "Even now experts are uncertain whether China has the technological know-how and capability to overcome these natural obstacles," Tethong said.

About 67,000 Chinese workers from outside Tibet and about 16,000 local work force will be pressed into service for completion of Lhasa-Golmud project.

He stressed the Tibetan were not against development "but we strongly protest development projects over which the Tibetan people have no say and which contribute to undermine their (Tibetans) ability to maintain their distinct cultural identity."

The Tibetan minister said: "We are not against progress and development of Tibet. The project, however, will create problems for Tibetans apart form playing havoc with the ecology of the plateau."

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