Railways to better link SW China with SE Asia (2)

17:01, May 31, 2011      

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One of the lines passes through the China-Laos border city of Mohan before ending in the Vietnamese capital city of Hanoi. The other runs through the Vietnam-China border county of Hekou before ending in the Vietnamese city of Vientiane.

The three railway lines will eventually meet in Thailand's capital of Bangkok.

Quan Hongtao, a local official in Ruili, says the transportation network will be key to China's opening to neighboring southwestern countries, largely because of the low cost of cross-regional railway trade.

"Since railway has the advantage of transporting goods and consuming less energy, the construction of the railway network will bring more opportunity to the local economy," Quan says.

Over the past five years, Yunnan has launched more than 10 inter-provincial railway projects, with an investment of 16.2 billion yuan (about 2.5 billion U.S. dollars) last year, according to the provincial railway department.

More than 1,600 km of railway lines are under construction in Yunnan, including the lines that connect the province to China's southwestern Sichuan Province and Chongqing Municipality and eastern Shanghai Municipality.

Liu Zhi, deputy director of the Institute of Southeast Asia Studies, said at a press conference in mid-May in Yunnan that the railway network will closely connect Yunnan with neighboring regions.

"Yunnan will become an export processing zone geared to the needs of southeast Asia," said Liu.

According to Liu, the total trade volume between China and Greater Mekong Subregion countries is expected to surpass 150 billion U.S. dollars in 2015, when China is predicted become the second or first largest trade partner of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
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