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China and Thailand Sign MoU on Railway Project
   2014-12-19 20:20:50    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: An Jing

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (L) meets with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha in Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, December 19, 2014. [Photo:Xinhua/Rao Aimin]

The Chinese and Thai governments have signed a new agreement on cooperation in the railway sector.

The signing of the deal, to be overseen by visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, is part of the Chinese government's broader plans to promote regional connectivity.

CRI's Liu Yan has more.


The documents will see China invest in a pair of rail lines connecting northeast Thailand with Bangkok and the Thai port city of Rayong to the south of Bangkok.

The two routes, which will total 870 kilometers, will later connect with the planned China-Laos railway.

The project in Thailand is worth an estimated 10.6 billion U.S. dollars.

Trains on the line are expected to run at over 3-times their current speeds.

Professor Thitinan Pongsudhirak is the Director of the Institute of Security and International Studies at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.

"Thailand wants to have more infrastructure development and certainly wants to have a role in China's growing influence in Asia, ASEAN and especially in mainland Southeast Asia. This railway project is really ambitious. It will connect southern China to the eastern sea border of Thailand. If it goes ahead, we will see strategic railway network that link southern China to golf of Thailand which is a link to the South China Sea and so on."

The project is part of a broader Chinese initiative to build a 3-thousand kilometer-long high-speed rail link from Yunnan's capital Kunming to Singapore, which would see the line pass through Laos, Thailand and Malaysia.

The ambitious plan is part of Chinese President Xi Jinping's attempt to create a 21st century Silk Road.

Professor Yang Baojun from Thailand's Thammasat University says the joint rail project should go a long way toward helping the Chinese government achieve its goal.

"Thailand is the transport hub of Southeast Asia, especially in maritime transportation. As such, the project has to be designed based on the railway capabilities of Thailand. It should contribute to the economic and transportation development of the country. China is now working to promote the one road and one belt initiatives, so participating in Thailand's infrastructure construction will have a significant impact on China's larger plans."

Aside from the railway project, Li Keqiang is also expected to oversee the signing of a number of agreements with the Thai government connected to agriculture.

Thailand is one of the largest rice producing countries in Asia.

For CRI, I'm Liu Yan.



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