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China Letter-News and Human Rights

China human rights news with focus on the Uygur of Xinjiang, Tibetans and Tibet, Chinese mining workers, religion, corruption and censorship.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

First rail tracks laid in Tibet

First rail line laid in Tibet. Pic courtesy China Daily

A new era dawns for Tibet and Tibetans

As the China Daily points out two centuries after the Industrial Revolution and the invention of the steam engine by James Watt a railway line has been laid on the "Roof of The World"; Tibet

"At about 11:30 am Tuesday, two 25-metre-long rails were laid at the Amdo Station, some 440 kilometres from Lhasa, at the foot of the Tanggula mountain range in Amdo County of Tibet."

The 1,142-kilometre link is scheduled to be completed in 2007 and will link Golmud City of Qinghai Province and Lhasa, capital of Tibet. At the risk of stating the obvious the rail line will be the highest above sea level in the world.

As history has proven the opening up of a rail line means rapid increases in economic activity and mobility within the area serviced. It brings wealth and people.

For some this is a good thing, for others like the American Indians in the 19th century it spelt the beginning of the end of their culture. For the Uygur of Xinjiang the advent of a rail to Urumqi in the early sixties and later to Kashgar brought mixed blessings. Along with an increase in economic activity and ultimately greater wealth it brought to an end the Uygurs isolation and hegemony by facilitating the movement of several million Han Chinese to the region.

It is hoped that in the case of Tibet and the Tibetans the result will be nothing but positive.

"First rail tracks laid in Tibet" China Daily 23/6/04 (viewed 24/06/04)