China operationalises key railway line to connect ASEAN bloc
Beijing: Amid deepening dispute with Southeast Asian countries over South China Sea, Beijing has operationalised its 141-km long railway link connecting ASEAN countries to firm up the burgeoning trade links with the regional bloc.
A railway that links China's southwestern Yunnan Province with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries became operational this weekend after seven years of construction, local railway authorities said.
China, which has a free trade area arrangement with the bloc, continued to have robust trade that rose by 23.9 percent year-on-year to USD 362.85 billion last year.
This despite its deepening disputes with key ASEAN countries like Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei over Beijing’s claims to almost all of South China Sea, which they bitterly oppose.
This 141-km long railway link between Yuxi and Mengzi, with a designed maximum speed of 120 km per hour, is part of the eastern line of the planned Pan-Asia Railway network.
It passes through 35 tunnels and crosses 61 bridges, which together account for 54.95 percent of the eastern line's total length.
The eastern line also consists of Kunming-Yuxi Railway, which had been in operation, and the Mengzi-Hekou Railway that is under construction and scheduled to be operational end of next year, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Upon the full completion of the eastern line, it will further open up China's southwest, improve transportation and boost economic development along the line, experts said.
The Pan-Asia Railway network also consists of central and western lines and is an international railway project that will bring China closer with southeast Asia.