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Now, China plans new rail link close to Arunachal Pradesh

world Updated: Jul 25, 2014 00:56 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

China will soon start construction of a new railway line in Tibet close to Arunachal Pradesh, even as another rail link bordering Sikkim is set to become operational next month, enhancing mobility of its military in the remote and strategic Himalayan region.

The step is set to counter New Delhi’s move to increase infrastructure in Arunachal Pradesh, which Beijing claims as south Tibet, academics told state media Thursday.

The new 254-km stretch will link Lhasa to Nyingchi in the east. Nyingchi is located right on top of Arunachal Pradesh, the nearest area to the border.

The new rail link is part of China’s ambitious Qinghai-Tibet railway project. The first link between Lhasa to Shigatse will become operational in August.

The headquarters of Beijing-backed 11th Panchen Lama Gyaincain Norbu is based in Shigatse, located close to the Sikkim border. The new stretches of railway — proudly called ‘closest stretch of railway to the sky’ by the Chinese — will help in “solving” border disputed between India and China.

“The railway, apart from boosting economic development, will contribute to solving border disputes between China and India in the South Tibet (AP) region,” state-run Global Times quoted observers as say.

Liu Zongyi, an expert of Indian studies with the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, said China’s “bargaining chips” will be increased “if people in the South Tibet (AP) region see better economic development in southwestern Tibet.”

"The growing railway network will increase Chinese activities in this area, balancing Indian moves," Liu added.