High-speed rail will set the pace in Turkey (4)

08:28, July 13, 2011      

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Sino-Turkish ties

"HSR is just a beginning for further economic cooperation" between Turkey and China, said Selcuk Colakoglu, director of Asia-Pacific Studies at Ankara-based International Strategic Research Organization.

"Turkey has transformed itself from a security state to a trading state during the past decade. If you want to be a trading state, you should have a very developed transportation link." Colakoglu added that building HSR links throughout Turkey is "very important for a sustainable rapid development".

China's support in Turkey's high-speed rail would be "beneficial for both Beijing and Ankara", he said. "China seems a best alternative to build HSR with high-tech and reasonable cost, including financial support. I believe that some other strategic cooperation would follow construction of HSR."

Xiao Junzheng, political counselor at the Chinese Embassy in Ankara, said the $1.27 billion Phase 2 of the Ankara-Istanbul high-speed line is the two countries' biggest cooperative construction project.

"The project has enhanced the confidence of the Turkish government and market in Chinese technology," Xiao said.

He said the project will not only deepen Sino-Turkish economic cooperation, but also will bring "significant" benefits to Turkey's economic development. For example, Xiao said, the number of rail passengers between Ankara and Istanbul is expected to rise from 4,000 daily to 25,000 when the high-speed railway opens.

When asked if China would aim at more HSR projects in Turkey, Xiao said, "The Turkish market is a very big one, so it is not possible for it to be dominated by any single country or company. Also, the investment would be really big.

"China is just a latecomer in the construction market here," he said. "South Korea, Japan and Russia are all more active. But I believe Chinese companies can stand firm in Turkey's construction contract market with their technology strength and good credit."

Stefaan Van Kerchove contributed to this report from Brussels.

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