Business / Industries

Thailand-China railway cooperation a boon for both

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-12-04 13:45

BEIJING - A Thailand-China railway project, on which the two countries signed an intergovernmental framework document Thursday, will not only benefit Chinese rail companies but also bolster prosperity and stability in Thailand.

The two nations will jointly build an 867-kilometer dual-track railway in Thailand, with 1.435-meter standard gauge and trains operating at top speeds of 160-180 kilometers per hour, according to the document.

As consensus was built on this project of strategic importance for China-Thailand relations, people of both countries should avoid being misled by some viewpoints that describe China as the bigger winner in the deal.

While it's true that the project will significantly increase Chinese rail firms' market influence in Southeast Asia, those who think Thailand will benefit less are short-sighted.

Poor railways in Thailand have proved insufficient in supporting economic growth in the country's remote and less developed areas, like the northeast where agriculture is a pillar industry.

By connecting northeast Thailand's Nong Khai province, the capital city Bangkok and the eastern Rayong province, the railway will play a key role in boosting trade and resource flow within the country, promoting balanced development and alleviating the wealth gap that has fueled political turmoil in Thailand.

As part of planned rail lines linking southern China, the Laos and Thailand, the project will also facilitate Thailand's farm produce exports, notably rice and rubber, to China.

China is Thailand's largest export market and trade partner. With the new railway to make transport more convenient, bilateral trade as well as Chinese investment in Thailand is expected to surge.

By allowing tourists to get on and off trains at more destinations in Thailand, the railway will also boost tourism in Thailand, another pillar industry of the country. In particular, it will rapidly increase the number of Chinese tourists, who accounted for 20 percent, the largest share, of all foreign travelers to Thailand last year.

As its economic growth hit its lowest rate in three years in 2014, partly due to cheaper and fewer farm produce exports, Thailand has a lot to gain from the project.

The construction of a regional infrastructure network has been the common wish of both China and Thailand.

As former Thai Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun noted in an interview with Xinhua, railway development will definitely help Thailand, a country that is advantageously located in the middle of Southeast Asia and is becoming more and more a hub of manufacturing, logistics, distribution and training in the region.

With railway technology, China is a good partner for Thailand in the project and has demonstrated strong willingness to support Thailand in funding, technology sharing and personnel training.

China has announced it will consider providing loans for Thailand at a fixed interest rate and on conditions more favorable than what Thailand will be required if seeking credit of the same scale, duration and currency from the international financial market.

The Chinese side will also send groups of experts to train Thai technicians through both short-term and longer-term courses, which will cover a wide range of subjects such as rail tracks, repairing, system, train control and safety.

China will transfer its skills and experience in railway operation and management to the Thai side "without reservation," and consider engaging qualified local subcontractors and personnel in the project, Chinese ambassador to Thailand Ning Fukui said earlier this year.

China has long upheld values of equality and mutual benefit in international cooperation, and smooth progress on the long-anticipated railway is in the interests of both parties. So far, China has shown utmost sincerity in cooperating with Thailand on the project. There is no reason to doubt that it will continue to do so in future.

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