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China railway diplomacy in 2015

China’s railway industry has seen another year of good harvest in overseas markets in 2015.

While launching a new project in Asia, China’s railway is also stretching into Europe.

Thailand and China launched on Dec. 19 the project of building the railway line linking the Thai capital city of Bangkok with the northeastern city of Nong Khai near Laos, marking the beginning of bilateral cooperation to develop Thailand’s first standard-gauge double-track railway line.

The 845-km railway line will be part of the backbone of a trans-Asia rail transportation system.

In Europe on Dec. 23, construction work started for building the Serbian section of the Serbia-Hungary railway line, in the execution of a flagship project between China and the two European countries.

When completed by mid-2017, the 350-km high-speed railway line, undertaken by a Chinese-led consortium, will reduce travel time between Belgrade and Budapest to less than three hours from the current average of eight.

The two projects, both promising enormous potential in transforming the landscape of regional cooperation, are only the latest yields from China’s railway diplomacy, a strategy aimed at better inter-connectivity and closer cooperation with partner countries.

Since 2013, Chinese leaders have been making unremitting efforts to promote the country’s railway technologies and equipment during foreign visits or at multilateral gatherings.

In November this year, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, regarded as a “super salesman” for the country’s railway industry, took leaders from 16 Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries for a bullet-train trip from Suzhou to Shanghai in east China to showcase Chinese technology.

The 20-minute trip, which came at the end of a China-CEE forum, was dubbed as an unprecedented marketing endeavor for China’s high-speed railway sector, as it involves so many top foreign leaders.

Chinese President Xi Jinping also brought it up into the “Belt and Road” initiative in 2013.

Since then, railway has become an important component of China’s diplomacy.

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