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Development

China to Invest 40 Billion Dollars on Transport Links in Poor West

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 01/10/13; October 13, 2001.]

BEIJING, Oct 12 (AFP) - China plans to spend more than 40 billion dollars over the next five years on road and rail links in its impoverished far west in an attempt to boost the economy, state press said Friday.

In all, 26.6 billion dollars will be invested in roads and 15 billion dollars on railway lines, officials were quoted as saying by the China Daily newspaper.

Beijing is keen to push development in the western regions, which lag far behind prosperous eastern commercial centres such as Shanghai and Guangzhou.

Road building, which would be concentrated in the southwest, would see 42,000 kilometres (26,000 miles) of new roads built by the end of 2005, said Cao You'an, a senior official with the Ministry of Communications.

This would include 3,400 kilometres (2,100 miles) of expressways, and would see links built to almost 500 towns and to 10,000 villages, the newspaper quoted him as saying.

The west of China would also see an extra 4,000 kilometres (2,500 miles) of railway lines built over the next five years, the Ministry of Railways told the newspaper.

A large amount of the new work would be in southwestern provinces such as Yunnan, Sichuan, and also in Tibet.

A major part of the railway expansion already announced is the ambitious and controversial plan to link Tibet with the rest of China.

In June work began on the 1,118-kilometer (650-mile) high-altitude line connecting Golmud in the western Chinese province of Qinghai to Lhasa, capital of Tibet.

Four-fifths of the railway will be built at an altitude of more than 4,000 meters (13,120 feet) and half will be laid on permafrost.

Tibetan rights advocates have condemned the project, saying although a railway could bring economic benefits, it is part of a drive to encourage Chinese migrants to settle in Tibet and enhance Beijing's control over the region.


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