China Moves Railway Network Closer to Arunachal Pradesh
Signpost at the India-China border in Bumla, Arunachal Pradesh.
NEW DELHI: China is moving ahead with its own military agenda, even as New Delhi under the present government seeks to strengthen relations with Beijing. High level visits are being planned even as China inaugurates its second railway line close to Tibet and in close proximity to India’s Sikkim.
The railway links being developed by China are to enhance its military capacity through mobility in areas that had limited access earlier. On the Indian side the territory towards the border with China is still largely not accessible although roads are being built now on a war footing.
China has also announced its plan to build yet another railway line in Tibet close to Arunachal Pradesh. It might be recalled that China still claims Arunachal Pradesh as its own territory, and has refused to allow persons from the state to visit even as part of official Indian delegations to China.
Chinese President Xi Jinping inaugurated the railway line in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, an extension of the Qinghai-Tibet railway, the world's highest rail link, on Friday.
The 253-km railway line , costing about $2.16 billion links the regional capital Lhasa and Xigaze, the second-largest city in the region is said to reduce the travel time from the current four hours by highway to around two hours.
This line is reported to have been constructed for increasing the mobility of the Chinese troops in the remote and strategic Himalayan region. v Further, this network also plans to connect Nepal and Bhutan.The imposing plan involves doubling the length of highways and railway lines in the Tibetan Autonomous Region from 48,678 km in 2013 to 110,000 km by 2020, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
En passant, China had also divulged its plans of constructing another railway link in Tibet close to Arunachal Pradesh, last month. This line, according to Chinese analysts could be used by Beijing as a "bargaining chip" during the border talks with India.
Additionally, another line linking Lhasa to Nyingchi in the east, also very close to Arunachal so much so that it is the nearest area to the border, is proposed and its construction is expected to begin shortly.
Experts say that the expanding Chinese rail network in Tibet will help further integrate the autonomous region with the mainland.
Moreover, it would help their military strategically by reducing the travel time to the remote southern Tibetan region.
Further, keeping in mind Beijing's repeated claims over Arunachal Pradesh and some other parts of northeast India, it is being expected that the growing railway network in Tibet might leverage this sensitive aspect.