Interview: China-Thailand ties to be upgraded by high-speed railway: ambassador
by Chen Jiabao
BANGKOK, Dec. 23 (Xinhua) — The China-Thailand high-speed railway will push bilateral relations to a new high, Chinese Ambassador Lyu Jian said at a ground-breaking ceremony in the northeastern Thai province of Nakhon Ratchasima.
The construction of Thailand’s first high-speed railway marked notable progress in pragmatic cooperation between the two countries as well as a major achievement in jointly promoting the Belt and Road Initiative and regional connectivity, Lyu told the Chinese and Thai media on Thursday.
The cross-border railway, the first standard-gauge high-speed project built with Chinese technologies in Thailand, will be linked with the China-Laos railway and China’s southern Yunnan province in the north and will connect Malaysia and Singapore southward, said the ambassador, adding that the project will improve regional connectivity and tap potentials of regional growth along the railway by setting up border economic zones, industrial parks and logistic hubs.
The economic development of less developed inland regions could be potentially driven by the railway, which in turn will significantly narrow regional economic disparity and promote overall development and prosperity, said the ambassador.
The 253-km Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima line, the first phase of the China-Thailand railway project, is just a small part of China-Thailand railway cooperation, but also a great step forward, which lays the foundation for more effective and smoother cooperation in the future, he said.
The first phase of the railway, linking Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima with a maximum speed of 250 km per hour, will cut the traveling time by train from 5 to 6 hours to only 1.5 hours.
A 355-km second phase will extend the railway from Nakhon Ratchasima to Nong Khai province on the Thai-Lao border, which will finally be connected with the China-Laos railway.
Lyu believed that mutual trust and understandings of China and Thailand have been enhanced in railway cooperation.
Based on shared benefits and development needs, the two countries have launched the project through in-depth communications, which is a paradigm of pragmatic cooperation between the two sides and demonstrates their strong will and firm resolve in promoting friendly cooperation, Lyu said.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday sent a congratulatory letter to groundbreaking of the first phase of the China-Railway railway. Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha presided over the ceremony.
Leaders of the two countries have attached great importance to the project and cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative, said Ambassador Lyu, emphasizing that the China-Thailand relations will reach a new high with the Chinese-Thai railway and pragmatic projects in various fields.
Proposed by China in 2013, the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along ancient land and maritime trade routes.