China is planning to construct a railway line to Nepal from Tibet passing through a tunnel beneath Mt Everest. The China Daily has revealed few details about the proposed network that is going to be completed by 2020 at ‘Nepal’s request’.
The rail network will produce the first time in history connect between Chinese mainland and Indian sub-continent across the high altitude Himalayas. China has already constructed Karakoram highway through Pakistan. But the turbulence in the region is making it a high risk route for the Chinese.
If completed, the Himalayan rail network will be an easy entry point for Chinese goods into India. Besides, the railway line will give some intangible strategic gain for China which is constantly sneaking into the South Asian region through land routes.
The 540 km rail network is an extension of Qinghai-Tibet Railway line. Qinghai-Tibet railway line which is nearly 2000 km long, links the Tibetan capital Lhasa and has been considered as instrumental in enhancing the mainstream Hans communities’ spread in the annexed Tibetan regions.
The China Daily report is silent about the financial commitment, though it is expected that Beijing will solely bear the cost given the direction of benefits.
The proposed rail network will be a real challenge for India as Nepal is traditionally resorting on India connectivity to the rest of the world.
Over the last one decade, China is engaging Nepal very seriously. It has constructed the Araniko highways through the difficult Himalayan ranges on the Tibetan side to transport goods to the Nepalese markets. The highway is also used for sending goods to the sizable Indian market.
China has been promoting extensive land and sea routes connections over the last few years through ‘one belt one road’ policy to connect the Chinese mainland with the rest of the world.