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Chinese railway: from ‘Made in China’ to ‘Built by China’

Updated: Feb 26,2015 5:33 PM     Xinhua

Xinhua — In the past two decades people living outside China may have found their daily life much easier thanks to inexpensive quality products with a “Made in China” label.

Such feelings will be further consolidated as “Built by China” railway projects are set to made riding public transport a more comfortable experience in many countries.

MAJOR RAILWAY PROJECTS OVERSEAS BY CHINA

In 2014, the first high-speed railway project built by Chinese companies outside the Asian country was completed in Turkey.

The 533-km railroad, with a design speed of 250 km per hour, links Turkey’s capital of Ankara with the country’s most populous city of Istanbul.

In the same year, a 1,344-km railroad project spanning the African country of Angola also had its finish touches and was put into operation. The line, built by the China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC), boasts the fastest traveling speed in the country and will serve as a significant economic corridor there.

China in May signed a deal to build a rail link worth $3.8 billion between Kenya’s Mombasa and Nairobi, the first phase of a line that will eventually connect Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan.

Under the deal, Exim Bank of China will provide 90 percent of the cost to replace the decades-old British colonial-era line with a 609.3 km standard-gauge link while Kenya will fund the balance of 10 percent.

Nigeria and Ethiopia also witnessed steady progress in railway projects undertaken by Chinese companies. Once completed, these railways will be the backbone of the local public transport system and a key component of growth.

Beside its leading role in building railway projects in various countries, the Chinese railway industry also had a much higher profile in the market of trains.

Trains made by China have been running on the Miter commuter route in the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires for almost three months.

“We are very proud that passengers are once again feeling respect for traveling in Argentina,” said Argentine President Cristina Fernandez, when the first 12 of 30 electric trains, supplied by China’s leading train maker CSR for the route, were officially brought into service in November.

There will be 709 China-made trains running in Buenos Aires, transporting millions of people in the city and nearby towns, once the project is completed.

Trains made by China will also be running in the European country of Macedonia soon as it inked a deal with China in June to purchase six fleets of high-speed trains.

HIGH-SPEED RAIL DIPLOMACY

Promoting China’s railway industry abroad has become an added task for the Chinese diplomacy lately, as shown by Premier Li Keqiang’s all-out efforts during many foreign trips to highlight the country’s high-speed rail technologies.

During his visit in Thailand in October 2013, Li’s speech at the Thai parliament was widely-reported by media outlets across the globe, with many focusing on his “sales pitch” on behalf of China’s railway industry that aspires to seek business deals overseas.

One month later when he addressed a trade forum between China and Central and Eastern European countries (CEE) in Bucharest, the Chinese leader also stressed the advantage of Chinese railway equipment and technologies.

In May 2014, Li said in a speech at the headquarters of African Union in Ethiopia that China will actively participate in infrastructure projects on the continent and build a high-speed rail research center there.

In June 2014, when he was on a visit to Britain, the Chinese premier said the two countries should promote cooperation in areas such as nuclear energy and high-speed rail projects.

WIN-WIN COOPERATION

Observers say that the high-speed rail has already become a significant part of China’s diplomacy that could leave a legacy comparable to that of pingpong diplomacy and Panda diplomacy in the past decades.

Building railways abroad and exporting railway equipment and technologies is a win-win situation for both China and foreign partners, as such cooperation will facilitate China’s endeavor to upgrade its national economy and, meanwhile, allow partner countries to enjoy all the benefits of these projects with lower costs.

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