Posts tagged ‘2010 Nobel Peace Prize’


Doubling down | The Economist

“A COLOSSAL roller-coaster” is how a senior engineer described it. He was talking about the railway that China plans to build from the lowlands of the south-west, across some of the world’s most forbidding terrain, into Tibet. Of all the country’s railway-building feats in recent years, this will be the most remarkable: a 1,600-kilometre (1,000-mile) track that will pass through snow-capped mountains in a region racked by earthquakes, with nearly half of it running through tunnels or over bridges. It will also be dogged all the way by controversy.

Chinese officials have dreamed of such a railway line for a century. In 1912, shortly after he took over as China’s first president, Sun Yat-sen called for a trans-Tibetan line, not least to help prevent Tibet from falling under the sway of Britain (which had already invaded Tibet from India a decade earlier). Mao Zedong revived the idea in the 1950s. In the years since, many exploratory surveys have been carried out.

But it is only after building the world’s second-longest railway network—including, in the past few years, by far the biggest high-speed one—that China’s government has felt ready to take on the challenge. It had a warm-up with the construction of the first railway into Tibet, which opened in 2006. That line, connecting Lhasa with Golmud in Qinghai province to the north (and extended two years ago from Lhasa to Tibet’s second city, Shigatse), was proclaimed to be a huge accomplishment. It included the highest-altitude stretch in the world, parts of it across permafrost. It required ingenious heat-regulating technology to keep the track from buckling. Advertisement: Replay Ad China further honed its skills with the opening of a high-speed line across the Tibetan plateau in 2014—though in Qinghai province, rather than in Tibet proper. But neither track had anything like the natural barriers that the Sichuan-Tibet line will face. It will be just under half as long again as the existing line to Tibet, but will take three times longer to build. The second line’s estimated cost of 105 billion yuan ($16 billion) is several times more than the first one. Lhasa is about 3,200 metres (10,500 feet) higher than Chengdu, yet by the time the track goes up and down on the way there—crossing 14 mountains, two of them higher than Mont Blanc, western Europe’s highest mountain—the cumulative ascent will be 14,000 metres. The existing road from Chengdu to Lhasa that follows the proposed route into Tibet is a narrow highway notable for the wreckage of lorries that have careered off it. Some Chinese drivers regard the navigation of Highway 318 as the ultimate proof of their vehicles’, and their own, endurance. Work on easier stretches of the railway line, closest to Lhasa and Chengdu respectively, began in 2014. Now the government appears to be getting ready for the tougher parts. A national three-year “plan of action”, adopted in March for major transport-infrastructure projects, mentions the most difficult stretch: a 1,000km link between Kangding in Sichuan and the Tibetan prefecture of Linzhi (Nyingchi in Tibetan). The plan says this should be “pushed forward” by 2018. It will involve 16 bridges to carry the track over the Yarlung Tsangpo river, known downstream as the Brahmaputra. Dai Bin of Southwest Jiaotong University in Chengdu says the Chengdu-Lhasa line could be finished by around 2030.

Source: Doubling down | The Economist


* Just one joke in 10 years, but Hu has the last laugh

Which world leader can look back at his/her past decade in power and point to the achievements that president Hu can?

Extract from The Times, London, 9 November, 2012 –

Hu Jintao, general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and Chinese president, delivers a keynote report during the opening ceremony of the 18th CPC National Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Nov. 8, 2012. The 18th CPC National Congress opened in Beijing on Thursday. (Xinhua/Rao Aimin)

“China’s economy was the world’s sixth biggest when Hu Jintao took power. A decade later, it is second to the US and gaining.

Most Chinese could only dream of owning a house or a car when Mr Hu took over. In 2002, just 3.2 million vehicles were sold; the number reached 18.5 million last year. Traffic jams seem endless and 65,000 miles of road have been laid — up from just 20,000. China overtook the US as the world’s biggest auto market in 2009. Only 16 people out 100 owned a mobile phone in 2002; today 74 in 100 have one.

About 59 million Chinese used the internet in 2002. Last year, nearly 520 million surfed cyberspace. The censors are meticulous in weeding out conversations deemed to be subversive. Perhaps more surprising is that such open discussion is allowed at all. Incomes have nearly tripled.

He ensured his popularity among 800 million peasants — and possibly his place in history — by abolishing a 2,600-year-old agricultural tax levied by emperors on every farming family.He put a man in space, launched an aircraft carrier (Soviet-made, admittedly) and developed technology to shoot down a satellite.

Some 200 protests erupt daily and the gap between rich and poor has widened to threaten Mr Hu’s cherished stability. In one of his jails Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner, serves 11 years. Mr Hu pledged to tackle corruption and arrested two Politburo members. An average of 94 officials are picked up every day for such offences. It’s a drop in the ocean of venality.

He once quipped: “A fall into the pit, a gain to your wit.” His rule was an odd mix of bold decisions and stasis.”

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