Jul. 18 – Leading a delegation of officials from China’s central government, Vice President Xi Jinping arrived in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa yesterday to attend the opening ceremony of the region’s first expressway.
With a length of 38.7 kilometers, the new four-lane highway will link Gonggar Airport to downtown Lhasa – reducing the travel time from the airport to downtown Lhasa to just 30 minutes. The construction of the expressway started in April 2009 and was finished earlier this month, 11 months ahead of schedule.
The RMB1.59 billion (US$246 million) expressway is now freely open to vehicles and allows a speed of 80 kilometers to 120 kilometers per hour. The roadside lighting is powered by solar energy.
The new highway will significantly ease traffic pressure on the No. 318 national highway, which was previously the main path for most of the traffic.
Along with the opening ceremony of the newly built expressway, central government leaders also came to Lhasa for the celebration of the 60th anniversary of Tibet’s peaceful liberation.
On May 23, 1951, China’s central government and the local government of Tibet signed the “Agreement on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet in Beijing,” which brought Tibet under Chinese control.
According to China’s state-run Xinhua News, the peaceful liberation of Tibet became an epoch-making tipping point in Tibet’s history, marking its transition from autocracy to democracy, from poverty to affluence, and from seclusion to openness.
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