The plan to open the Qinghai-Tibet Railway on July 1 caused an escalation of violent protests by many Tibetans. Exiled Tibetans approached the Chinese Embassy in India to protest against trains leaving for Lhasa. Protesters clambered over iron fences at the embassy entrance and burned the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) national flag. They scuffled with local police and embassy guards; many demonstrators were arrested. Exiled Tibetan organizations are planning to hold large-scale global demonstrations on July 1 to oppose the opening of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway.
Beijing announced that the Qinghai-Tibet Railway has the potential to help develop Tibet, but dissidents in Tibet say that the railway will bring about unexpected social and economic pressures, and further alienate Tibetans, thus bringing more damage to Tibetan culture.
Beijing Disregards Human Rights and Livelihood
A Tibetan human rights activist said that the Qinghai-Tibet Railway will erode Tibet's traditional culture and destroy the surrounding environment. Tibetans will become more alienated and it will become increasingly difficult to earn their livelihood.
She said, “The Qinghai-Tibet Railway will further damage Tibetans' interests. Today, people have to speak mandarin when finding jobs in Lhasa or other cities and towns of Tibet; migrating Han people have deprived Tibetans of their jobs. Therefore, the economic problems that Tibetans face are becoming worse. After the railway is opened, more Hans will come here and Tibetans will face increasingly severe hardships.”
“Since the Chinese Communist Party invaded Tibet in 1950, it has never consulted with Tibetans when drawing up development policies. After carrying out market research, the financial activities increased, but Tibetans' human rights still lacked real improvement. In 2005, there were people in Lhasa imprisoned solely because they watched part of the Dalai Lama's speech. Tibetans need autonomy and improved economic benefits.”
Environmentalists were worried that the Qinghai-Tibet Railway would affect the fragile ecology of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and bring about unexpected social and economic pressure on Tibet, known as “the roof of the world.”
The Chinese Communist Party Intends to Control the Military and Obtain Resources
Foreign media and citizens supporting Tibet's autonomy fear that the Chinese communist regime's main intention of constructing the Qinghai-Tibet Railway is for military purposes. It will enable faster deployment of troops to Tibet to ensure the security of Tibet's borders adjoining India and Nepal. The Chinese communist regime also hopes to glean Tibet's rich resources by using the railway. Uranium in Tibet would provide fuel for the regime's plan to develop nuclear energy. Gold and other minerals would be transported to industrial regions along the coast by the railway.
The Qinghai-Tibet Railway, which opens on July 1, will be the highest railway in the world reaching an altitude of 5,072 meters (16640.4 feet). The carriages are pressurized and medical personnel will be on standby in the trains. Each passenger will be equipped with an oxygen mask. The standard fare is 776 Yuan (US$97), whilst the luxury fare is 1,241 Yuan. (US$155.1)