Tibet's governor praises plans for 2nd railway line to Lhasa

AP News
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Posted: Mar 07, 2016 4:16 AM
Tibet's governor praises plans for 2nd railway line to Lhasa

BEIJING (AP) — Tibet's governor said Monday that a second railway being planned to the Tibetan capital will help bring improvements to the Himalayan region.

First announced last week, the 1,800-kilometer (1,120-mile) line would link Lhasa with the western metropolis of Chengdu with an estimated travel time of 13 hours.

Few other details are known, but Losang Jamcan, the governor of the Chinese-ruled territory, said during a meeting of Tibetan delegates to China's National People's Congress that Tibet's regional government considers the project important to improving living standards.

The meeting came one week after a Buddhist monk set himself on fire and died in a protest against Chinese rule, in the first such action of its kind this year. The self-immolation protests are seen as an extreme expression of the anger and frustration felt by many Tibetans living under what they consider a heavy-handed administration.

Information from Tibet and traditionally Tibetan regions of western China is extremely hard to obtain due to tight security and travel bans. Chinese authorities have refused to confirm a weeks-long ban on foreign tourists traveling to Tibet reportedly imposed late last month.

Beijing blames the Dalai Lama and others for inciting the immolations and says it has made vast investments to develop the region's economy and improve quality of life. The Dalai Lama, the Tibetans' 80-year-old spiritual leader, says he opposes all violence, but warns that Chinese rule is eroding Tibet's unique Buddhist culture.

The second railway would complement a 1,956-kilometer (1,215-mile) line that opened in 2006 and crosses passes as high as 5,000 meters (16,400 feet).

The existing line, which runs from the western city of Golmud, has brought a new wave of tourists to the Himalayan region, most of them Chinese, along with a further influx of migrants to Lhasa and other cities.

It also facilitates the deployment of troops and military equipment to Lhasa, which is about 300 kilometers (186 miles) from China's disputed border with India.