According to Tibet Release, the economic and social development plan of Tibet Autonomous Region proposes the creation a three hour economic circle with center at Lhasa and spreading to Shigatse, Lhoka, Nyingchi and Nagqu.
This means that Tibet will have to change the current transport infrastructure and build a number of roads, tunnels and bridges in order to reduce travel time from Lhasa to these surrounding four cities to three hours.
Over the last five years, Tibet has built the Lhasa-Nyingchi Highway, the Nyingchi Milin Airport Expressway, the Gala Mountain Tunnel from Lhasa to Gongkar Airport and the bridge across the Yarlung Zangbo River amongst others.
Coupled with the opening of Lhasa-Shigatse Railway, connecting the Tibetan capital Lhasa to the second largest city Shigatse, the transport conditions in Tibet have improved greatly.
According to statistics, the Loetschberg Base Tunnel in the European Alps is 57 kilometers. The Swiss spent 3.5 billion dollars and 17 years to build the tunnel, which has linked up North and South Europe. Construction conditions for the tunnel digging site were far better than those in Tibet.
The average altitude in Tibet is 3500 meters and the natural conditions are extremely harsh. Construction on the plateau requires overcoming the alpine hypoxia, permafrost, constant snow, landslides, mudslides, earthquakes and other natural disasters. At the same time, complex terrain poses great difficulties to road construction and tunnel digging.
Tibet is China’s only provincial-level concentrated destitute area, which means that the whole of the autonomous region is considered a poverty-stricken area. The task of poverty alleviation is a very important one. With this in mind, improvements to transport infrastructure are one the key factors for economic development. Only with economic development can people’s livelihoods improve.
In addition, Tibet is a global tourist destination. Every year tens of thousands of Chinese and foreign tourists come to Tibet to enjoy the sacred mountains and holy lakes, and to feel the rich, unique culture.
Nyingchi is known as the Eastern Switzerland as the lakes and mountains are exceptionally beautiful; Nagqu grasslands retain Tibet’s oldest nomadic way of life; Shigatse has an atmosphere of rich Tibetan Buddhist culture; and Lhoka is the birthplace of Ethnic Tibetan.
Reaching each of these cities in just three hours from Lhasa will promote economic and cultural exchange, and will give the world a better understanding of Tibet.