Vietnam is seeking more cooperation with China on railroads as a number of officials from the Southeast Asian country visited China’s communications ministry, state-backed rail operators, train makers, and rail link builders at the end of last month.
A delegation led by Vietnam’s Transport Minister Nguyen Van Thanh met with Li Xiaopeng, his Chinese counterpart, as well as officials from the National Railway Administration and executives at China State Railway Group, China Zhongche Group, China Communications Construction Group, and China Railway Construction.
Vietnam has seen the logistics value and channel effect of the opening of the China-Laos rail link, Lei Xiaohua, deputy director at the Southeastern Asia research institute of the Guangxi Academy of Social Sciences, said in explaining the possible reasons for the visit.
Vietnam also realizes that there will be restraints on industry transformation if logistics facilities, especially railroad and other transportation infrastructure, lag behind the needs of economic development.
The third reason is Vietnam’s exports to the European and US markets have tumbled amid a sluggish global economy, while China-Vietnam economic and trade cooperation is moving upward, Lei said.
Gauge tracks unsuitable for fast trains and heavy cargo
China and Vietnam have been connected by rail since 1910, but the 1,000 millimeter gauge tracks are unsuitable for fast trains and heavy cargo. The two have repeatedly discussed accelerating cooperation on rail, air and land transport.
Yunnan province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, two Chinese administrative areas bordering Vietnam, are pushing ahead with rail inter-connection projects with their neighbor.
The China-Laos railroad has transported 16.4 million passengers and 21 million tons of goods since it opened in December 2021, and the China-Thailand railroad is expected to be completed and opened to traffic in 2026.
Construction of the Pan-Asian Railway Network should be accelerated, Lei said, noting that the China-Laos link needs to be connected with the network after it opens. The main difficulty in the building the network is the lack of funds, with countries along the planned route, such as Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia, all facing this challenger.
Source: Yicai Global