Headline news in Hongkong’s South China Morning Post yesterday (March 8, 2010) revealed that China plans to extend its high-speed railway infrastructure to up to 17 countries in Southeast Asia, Central Asia and even Europe.
It has designed three proposals for future networks: Kunming in Yunnan to Singapore via Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar and Malaysia; Urumqi in Xinjiang autonomous region through to Central Asia extending to Germany; and Heilongjiang in northeast China, crossing to Russia with final destination in Western Europe. The line would utilise China’s high-speed railway standard with maximum speed at 350km per hour.
In exchange, the countries linked and benefiting from China’s promise of providing technology, equipment, high-speed trains, and even some construction costs, would be required to give their natural resources. Many of the regions the railway line intends to pass through are underdeveloped but boast abundant mineral and energy reserves.
Chinese officials see the project as a win-win situation with the prospect of modernisation arriving in its western regions as well as the country being assured of a steady supply of natural resources.
Already, a number of Central Asian and Eastern European countries have been pumping natural gas into China through pipelines, winning for their cooperation hefty financial support.
Margie T Logarta