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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 railroads.”

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 2)

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. 9, 2005)

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 issue.”

China also celebrated, this spring, the formal completion of the Three Gorges Dam—the largest hydroelectric dam in the world.

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.