Source: China Daily

08-19-2006 15:24

Why did China build the Qinghai-Tibet Railway? This is an "ignorant question". Transportation is the most basic prerequisite for any area to seek development. "If people want to be rich, they must first build roads." This is a Chinese proverb. The construction of railway will bring fortune and benefits to Tibetan people, according to Mr. Wu Yingjie, minister of Public Relations Department of Tibet Autonomous Region.

After Qinghai-Tibet Railway went into operation on July 1, some foreign reporters are always curious about the role of this line. Mr. Wu, during an interview on August 7, said that once a German reporter raised a question: why did China build railway in Tibet? What will be the influence on local politics by this line? Wu Yingjie asked a rhetorical question:"I have just finished a business trip in Germany last month. I saw two parallel railways along Rhine, with trains shuttling on them. Why should Germany build railways along Rhine?"

Mr. Wu said, any people with common sense knew that transportation is the basic prerequisite for any area to seek development. "To build railway in Tibet will definitely benefit the local development in every aspect, and the beneficiary will definitely be the local people. Why couldn't some people understand such a simple reasoning?"

In fact, in only one month after Qinghai-Tibet Railway was open to traffic, local people have enjoyed a lot of practical benefits from it. Wu Yingjie cited an example: there is a Tibet High School in Beijing, to which Tibet will send excellent students to study every year. Before the railway was open, due to the high travel cost of around 5,000 yuan, students and parents couldn't afford the money on road, and many students studying there couldn't go home for family reunion for years. Today, the fare for train is only around 1,000 yuan and students can get 50%-off.The opening of Qinghai-Tibet Railway coincides with summer vacation, so many Tibetan students in Beijing choose to take train to go back home.

Wu Yingjie said, after the Qinghai-Tibet Railway was open to traffic, the cost of building materials is greatly reduced. At present, Tibet is in active process of farmer and herdsman settlement upgrading project, through which farmers and herdsmen will live in big and bright house, and realize splitting of human residing and herd raising. The opening of Qinghai-Tibet Railway is of positive significance for the change in lifestyle of farmers and herdsmen.

As for the problem on traditional Tibetan cultural protection and environmental protection that has attracted wide attention so far, Wu Yingjie said that Tibetan cultural is a multi-culture in itself, which has absorbed many external cultures, including the combined architectural style of temples with elements from other ethnic Chinese people and even foreign cultures. The opening of Qinghai-Tibet Railway is a rare opportunity for the exchange and development of Tibetan culture. The railway will make cultural exchange more frequent, introduce it to the outside world, and prosper it.

Wu Yingjie also said, on the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, 1.5 billion yuan was invested in environmental protection. The Tibetan antelopes in Kekexili have amounted to 150,000 now, showing an obvious effect of environmental protection. 

The central government has taken a series of measures to protect Tibet's frail environment, including the construction of the National Environmental Safety Defense for the Tibet Altiplano, which will cost 38.7 billion yuan.


By Zhang Nan (