China's state planning organization vowed recently to strengthen the construction of railway projects that aim for border defense, the first time for the planner to announce such measures involved with defense.
The announcement was part of the budget plan that the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) released for the railways, which analysts said indicates the Sichuan-Tibet Railway may involved in the plan.
"The Sichuan-Tibet Railway is a fundamental railway project directly linked to border defense," Zhao Jian, a professor with Beijing Jiaotong University, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
The Sichuan-Tibet Railway, which extends more than 1,740 kilometers from Chengdu to Lhasa, is the second railway running to Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region after the Qinghai-Tibet Railway.
It will go through the southeast part of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, one of the world's most geologically active areas.
The contractor, China State Railway Group Co, started the Ya'an-Nyingchi section of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway in November 2020.
The Sichuan-Tibet railway, which will cut the journey from Chengdu to Lhasa from 48 hours to 13 hours, is of great significance in safeguarding national unity and maintaining border stability, Chinese experts told the Global Times.
Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times in an earlier interview that "if a crisis scenario happens at the China-India border, the railway will provide great convenience for China's delivery of strategic materials."
China's railway operator also listed promoting the construction of the Sichuan-Tibet railway project with high quality as one of the key projects in 2021.
The NDRC also stated plans to increase railway freight capacity and upgrade the infrastructure of China-Europe Express Railway.
China State Railway Group Co said that it operated a record 12,400 China-Europe freight train trips in 2020, up 50 percent from the previous year, facilitating global cooperation to fight COVID-19.
In 2020, China's fixed-asset investment in railways reached 781.9 billion yuan ($121 billion), up 71.9 billion yuan from the plan announced at the beginning of the year.