Nepal rail project can also bring China, India closer together on trade relations

  At the invitation of Chinese premier Li Keqiang, Nepalese prime Minister K.p. Sharma Oli is paying an official visit to China from Tuesday to Sunday. During Oli's visit, cooperation on infrastructure projects like the railway line connecting Gyirong in Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region with the Nepali capital Kathmandu is expected to be discussed.

  Since China extended its rail network to Xigaze, Tibet in 2014, Beijing has been working to further extend the railway line to the China-Nepal border port of Gyirong, a project that is expected to be completed in 2020. If a rail connection between Gyirong and Kathmandu can be achieved, the two countries can establish an integrated network of rail freight.

  Nepal's new government holds a positive attitude toward the plan. Oli told the Global Times on Tuesday that the railway project is a priority for Nepal's partnership with China. "Our two countries are working seriously to establish cross-border railway connectivity," said Oli.

  If all goes well, it won't take long to make the integrated rail network a reality, and the line is likely to be a game-changer in terms of trade, connectivity and economic integration in South Asia.

  Sandwiched between China and India, Nepal has long been dependent on the latter for international trade because the inland Himalayan nation has no outlet to the sea. If China and Nepal are connected by rail, bilateral trade will increase, with the Himalayan nation getting the opportunity to dilute the influence of New Delhi. It is understandable that the rail line may arouse vigilance in India, but the project does not strategically target any third party, including India.

  The rail line is just the first step to fulfill the wish to establish an integrated rail network among China, Nepal and India. If the three countries can be connected via cargo trains, which are faster than ships and cheaper than planes, India is likely to witness a surge in its exports of goods such as agricultural products to China.

  India and Nepal have road links, but this is not enough to meet the demand for international freight. If India wants to extend its rail network to Nepalese cities, China will not be stingy in offering help.

  An integrated rail network will be a key component of a trans-Himalayan economic corridor connecting China, Nepal and India. Rather than being wary of Nepal's increased cooperation with China, New Delhi's best choice is to push forward the trilateral economic corridor with closer cooperation.

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China limits number of visitors to world's largest telescope site

  GUIYANG, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- Measures to limit the number of visitors at the site of the world's largest single-dish radio telescope were adopted to cope with a tourism boom during the seven-day National Day holiday.

  Guests at a viewing platform of Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) have been limited to 2,000 people per day, according to the publicity department of pingtang County in southwest China's Guizhou province, where the giant telescope is located.

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  Although the access to the viewing platform is free of charge, each visitor needs to pay 50 yuan (7.3 U.S. dollars) for shuttle bus service. Since Sept. 20, shuttle bus tickets have been available only through online booking.

  Since its trial operation in 2016, FAST has found 44 pulsars, which can be used to conduct research on gravitational waves and black holes, and to help solve many other major questions in physics.

  However, the tourist surge has stoked concerns that radio signals from electronic devices carried by tourists might compromise the telescope's results.

  Alongside the latest measures, the local government has also set up strict security checks to ensure no electronic devices are brought with when tourists enter the viewing platform.

  FAST will start formal operation and open to Chinese astronomers in 2019.

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