Tibet rail network can help region, nation further to open economy to rest of world

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2018/8/13 22:28:05

Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, one of the nation's least-developed areas, found itself in the spotlight on the Chinese stock markets on Monday, as shares in several companies focusing on Tibet's economy posted good performances.

The gains came after media reports that Tibet will build rail links to Southwest China's Sichuan and Yunnan provinces, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and India's railway network. When all of these railways are built, Tibet will become a pragmatic bridgehead for China's opening-up toward South Asian countries.

The projects must overcome many challenges such as permafrost, but the idea of a railway network in Tibet is not just empty talk. Earlier reports suggested work on some sections of the planned lines began before this year.

China's vision of a railway network on the Tibetan plateau will encourage exchanges between Tibet and other parts of the country. The railways will bring coal, oil and gas, as well as business and job opportunities, into Tibet. In recent years, the economy in Tibet has grown more quickly than the rest of China. The rail links will provide fresh impetus for Tibet's economic take-off.

These massive investments in infrastructure are likely to intensify interaction among different ethnic groups in Tibet and enhance ethnic solidarity. Social stability is the significant premise and foundation of Tibet's further opening-up, and it will also serve as a catalyst for regional economic integration.

Despite Tibet's complicated historical and cultural issues, we believe that China can ensure a smooth process for Tibet's opening-up. Living standards in Tibet have been rising in recent years, especially after the Qinghai-Tibet Railway was put into operation in 2006. China's design for a railway network is an important step on Tibet's road to opening up to the outside world.

Forty years of opening-up and economic achievement are prompting China to shift focus from eastern coastal hubs to inland regions, which are on the leading edge of a trend to further open up the country to the outside world.

China is ramping up efforts to further open up Tibet, which is a complex process. It will also be an important component of China's efforts to push forward the Belt and Road initiative in South Asia.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn


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