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Railways aim to boost trade in Southeast Asia

Li Yingqing and Xu Wei
Updated: Jan 27,2015 8:44 AM     China Daily

Authorities in Yunnan province will continue to push for enhanced links with Southeast Asia to boost cross-border infrastructure, trade and tourism, a senior official said on Jan 26.

“We will step up the construction of infrastructure linking our province with its bordering countries, including transportation, electricity, information transmission, warehousing and logistics,” Chen Hao, acting governor of the province, said in a work report to the annual session of the Yunnan Provincial People’s Congress.

China drafted a preliminary plan in 2013 to build three railway lines connecting Yunnan’s capital Kunming to Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

Chen said that the province will try to make sure that construction begins this year on two of the three railway lines, including one that links Yuxi with Boten in the Laos.

The province is targeting a total inflow of $2.8 billion in foreign investment in the new year, Chen said. The development of a tariff-free zone and a cross-border economic cooperation area in the province’s Honghe Hani and Yi autonomous prefecture will also be accelerated.

Provincial authorities reopened 13 cross-border land routes in 2013 to boost tourism and other businesses in the region.

The further exploitation of other cross-border routes, including the transport potential of the Mekong River, is also under discussion with Myanmar authorities, he said.

Zhang Likun, a member of the Yunnan Provincial People’s Consultative Conference, said the province should further exploit its service sector, especially its rich tourism resources, to boost its trade and exchanges with the Southeast Asian countries.

“But we also need to strike a balance between the development and protection of the tourism resources,” he said.