An amazing feat
Published Jul 7, 2006 11:32 PM
Engineers the world over agree that the new Tibet-China railroad that opened
July 1, carrying 2,569 passengers in its first three days of operation, is the
most impressive engineering feat of its kind in the world. It is the
world’s highest railway, as well as the longest plateau railroad.
One of its stations, at 16,640 feet above sea level, sits higher than the
peak of Western Europe’s tallest mountain, Mont Blanc. In addition, the
People’s Daily reports, “About 550 kilometers [342 miles] of the
tracks run on frozen earth, the longest in any of the world’s plateau
The Chinese government had to overcome all kinds of
engineering difficulties to ensure the safety of the railroad. Train cars had to
be pressurized and equipped with artificial oxygen, as is done on planes, so
that passengers could breathe comfortably at the high altitudes.
“Engineers designed bridges to span the most treacherous area of
permafrost and sank naturally cooled piping into the ground to keep the track
bed frozen year-round, reducing instability.” (New York Times, July
The government set aside $240 million on the project for environmental
protection. The train cars emit zero waste—a first in China. To compensate
for land lost to bridges and to a station in the Gulu Wetlands—a preserve
for black-necked cranes and yellow ducks—it created 20 acres of new
wetlands around the perimeter of the original preserve. (New York Times, Sept.
Described in this Times article written last September as a
“prominent environmentalist,” Yang Xin of Qinghai Province lauded
the care taken by the government: “We proposed detailed measures on
protecting migrating Tibetan antelopes in
the morning, and to our surprise
we got the government’s answer back that very afternoon, less than three
hours later. This reflects the government’s attitude toward this
China also celebrated, this spring, the formal completion of
the Three Gorges Dam—the largest hydroelectric dam in the
These engineering feats show the tremendous development of China in
just half a century—from a country of mass famines to one with a modern
scientific-technological establishment. None of it would have been possible
without the communist-led revolution that overthrew the rule of feudal landlords
and capitalist collaborators with imperialism.
Millions used to die in
China every year from famines and floods. Now China is forging ahead, and the
building of this railroad is just one of the more spectacular elements in its
efforts to develop the western part of the country, which has lagged behind the
coastal areas in terms of development.
The reactions of the imperialist
media to this stunning achievement for a developing country of 1.3 billion
people range from grudging respect to saying virtually nothing to attacking the
whole project as meant to suppress and colonize the people of Tibet, although
they offer no evidence of that whatsoever.
The same media that constantly
regale us with tales of how the U.S. blossomed after new railroads opened the
West are taking a dim view of China’s careful and well-planned steps to
build up the infrastructure of its underdeveloped areas. Fortunately, the
imperialists don’t call the shots in China any more.
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