China maybuild rail tunnel under Mount Everest, state media reports
A railwaybetween China and Nepal that could include a tunnel under Mount Everest is underconsideration, Chinese state media said Thursday, as Beijing builds links witha country India regards as firmly within its sphere of influence.
TheQinghai-Tibet railway already links the rest of China with the Tibetan capitalLhasa and beyond, and an extension running as far as the international borderis already being planned “at Nepal’s request”, the China Daily newspaperreported, quoting an expert at the Chinese Academy of Engineering.
This isexpected to be completed by 2020, it cited a Tibetan official as saying.
Chineseforeign minister Wang Yi visited Kathmandu in December and, according toNepalese reports, said the line could eventually be extended to the Nepalesecapital and further, potentially providing a crucial link between China and thehuge markets of India.
Such aplan could see a tunnel being built under Mount Everest, the China Daily said.
“The linewill probably have to go through Qomolangma so that workers may have to digsome very long tunnels,” expert Wang Mengshu told the newspaper, referring toEverest by its Tibetan name.
He saidthat, due to the challenging Himalayan terrain with its “remarkable” changes inelevation, trains on any line to Kathmandu would probably have a maximum speedof 120 km/h.
Theproposal underscores China’s influence in the impoverished Himalayan nation,where Beijing has for years been building roads and investing billions ofdollars in hydropower and telecommunications.
Chinesetourism to Nepal, which is home to eight of the world’s 14 peaks over 8,000metres, is also climbing.
Beijing’sincreasing role has raised alarms in New Delhi that China, already closelyallied to Pakistan, is forging closer economic ties with Sri Lanka, theMaldives and Nepal in a deliberate strategy to encircle India.
In anapparent counter-move, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged late lastyear that South Asia’s largest economy would fund a series of regionalinvestments and free up its markets to its neighbours’ exporters.
But Indiahas struggled to compete with China’s financial muscle.
Chineseplans to expand the rail network in Tibet have also come under criticism fromrights groups including the International Campaign for Tibet, which has warnedof the project’s “dangerous implications for regional security and the fragileecosystem of the world’s highest and largest plateau”.
I doubtthis will go under Qomolanma, the most sacred mountain to Tibetan and NepaleseBuddhists.
It islikely a Chinese government ruse to make the eventual tunneling route morepalatable by comparison.
TheChinese found Shangri-La and the fountain of youth...... now they need a fastrail to service 1 billion people who want to go there.
This is adisaster.
Everestis the highest moutain on earth...it should be left unharmed in every way.Already the tourist impact of visiting Everest is severe but building a raillink? That's stretching the luck.