“Aren’t we Chinese great? They said it couldn’t be done. And yet we’ve not only done it, we’ve done it ahead of plan.” We are two hours, several beers and half a roasted duck into a journey on the overnight express from Xining, the capital of Qinghai province, travelling along the completed half of what will soon be part of the world’s highest railroad – the 1,900km line from Xining across the Qinghai plateau to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. But my patriotic conversation partner, Wang Qiang, is just warming up on his favourite subject: China’s engineering prowess.
“The new track follows the highway built by our soldiers in the 1950s. The terrain is so harsh that three of them died for every kilometre of road. You have to admire their spirit. But now we’ve built the railway without the loss of a single life. Isn’t China great?”