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Behind China's Transportation Boom

China is in the middle of a massive transportation boom, one which Fred Stakelbeck takes a careful look at and calls "the greatest transportation explosion since post-World War II America." While observing, Fred asks: Is this exponentially growing system for commerce or conquest? While the answer likely lies somewhere between the two to varying degrees based upon system and location in question, consider the effects of the rail link between China and Tibet.

From the onset of the Beijing-Lhasa project, China’s leaders have asserted that the railway’s new Canadian-made Bombardier trains would provide unprecedented economic growth for the sparsely populated plains of Xinjiang, China and Tibet, breaking down long-standing barriers between the Han dominated Chinese majority and ethnic Tibetans.

However, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has refuted Beijing’s claims, saying the new railway could lead to “cultural genocide” by luring more Chinese workers to the region. “In general, a railway link is very useful in order to develop, but not when politically motivated to bring about demographic change,” he said in June.

Supporting the Dali Lama’s claims of Chinese encroachment, highly desirable construction jobs that were promised to ethnic Tibetans as a result of the massive railroad construction project never materialized. Zhu Zhengsheng, project manger for the Chinese Railroad Ministry, recently acknowledged only 10 percent of the roughly 100,000 workers employed during the five years of construction were native Tibetans.

Concerns are growing among ethnic Tibetans that the railway is just another way for Beijing to increase its stranglehold on the country. During opening ceremonies for the Beijing-Lhasa Express, thousands of green-uniformed soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), policemen and Chinese government agents were stationed along the railway route. Several Chinese military convoys were spotted around the capital city of Lhasa and “secret police” were dispersed among the train’s passengers. Current plans call for approximately 3,000 to 5,000 Chinese soldiers to be stationed along the train route for security purposes, using existing military bases and camps to coordinate operations.

pla-shooting-tibet.jpgThose who may question the Chinese intent in Tibet, with or without regard to the rail link, should consider the ProTV footage of Chinese soldiers shooting at Tibetan pilgrims as they trekked through the snow within eyesight of the PLA sharpshooters.

The video is stunning, and the Chinese later claim of Tibetan ‘militants’ attacking them is telling. China, remember, enjoys our 'Most Favored Nation' trading status perennially.