Highway in Tibet opens South Asia to China

By Liu Caiyu Source:Global Times Published: 2017/9/18 0:03:39

Road links China with Nepal, boosts economy

The Tibet highway between Xigaze airport and Xigaze city center officially opened to the public on Friday, a short section linking the national highway to the Nepal border which experts said will enable China to forge a route into South Asia in both economic and defense terms.

The 40.4-kilometer highway will shorten the journey from an hour to 30 minutes between the dual-use civil and military airport and Tibet's second-largest city, the Tibet Financial Daily reported Sunday. 

The new road runs parallel with the Xigaze-Lhasa railway and links the city's ring roads with the 5,476-kilometer G318 highway from Shanghai to Zhangmu on the Nepal border. As part of G318, the highway connects the border town of Zhangmu with Lhasa, the capital city of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region. It can link with the future cross-border Sino-Nepali railway, said Zhao Gancheng, director of the Center for Asia-Pacific Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies.

The Sino-Nepali railway was part of a deal struck by Nepal Deputy Prime Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara when he visited China in early September. The railway includes two lines: one connecting three of Nepal's most important cities and two crossing the border between China and Nepal, the People's Daily reported.

The Sino-Nepali railway, which passes through the Chinese border town of Zhangmu and connects with routes in Nepal, will be the first railway by which China enters South Asia, Zhao said. "Although the railway connection between China and Nepal is intended to boost regional development and not for military purposes, the move will still probably irritate India."

India is always disgusted when neighboring countries attempt to get closer to China, Zhao explained.

The 25-meter-wide highway between Xigaze peace airport and Xigaze has four double lanes and is classified a first-tier highway, the Tibet Financial Daily reported. "Highways in China are of a high standard including the one in Tibet," Zhao said. "It can be used by armored vehicles and as a runway for planes to take off when it has to serve a military purpose."

Economic benefits

"The road is Tibet's first real highway. It is our gift toward the upcoming 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China," said Wei Qianggao, deputy head of the Tibet transportation department, news portal eastday.com reported.

As an important traffic program in the 13th Five-Year Plan and a core section of the Tibet Autonomous Region's highway network, the road will benefit the export-oriented economy of Xigaze and the complex traffic around Lhasa, Wei said.

Over five years, the standard of highways in Tibet and the traffic network have been gradually improved, Xinhua reported on Friday quoting Wang Jinhe, another official from the Tibet transportation department. The total highway mileage in Tibet reached more than 80,000 kilometers in 2016, increasing nearly 19,000 kilometers since 2011, Wang said. Traffic infrastructure construction will improve the economy by linking airport-road businesses with city-to-city businesses, Wang Daiyuan, a professor from the Tibet Academy of Social Sciences told the Global Times.

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