Japan casts shadow on China’s bullet train ambition with India

Having lost a contract in Mexico that was supposedly in the bag, China is keeping its fingers crossed regarding a possible bullet- train deal with India along the 1,754 kilometre Delhi-Chennai high speed rail corridor.

A commentary on Thursday that appeared in the Global Times, affiliated to the Chinese communist party, apprehended that the Sino-Indian partnership in the high-speed rail domain “has not yet been well-received by the Indian public”.

Besides, it observed that “Japan, which is also eyeing the market and has pledged to offer a more attractive funding scheme, is a serious rival in the sector.”

Yet, notwithstanding its rivalry with Tokyo, the daily was hopeful that in case the first rail project after President Xi Jinping’s September visit to India materialised, it could become a game-changer, yielding “untold dividends for both sides.”

The commentary, which was also carried by the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese government was timed with >visit to China by a five-member delegation of India’s High Speed Rail Corporation, led by its chairman, Satish Agnihotri. The delegation is engaged in nailing the “terms of reference” of the feasibility study, which Chinese authorities will undertake to establish a high-speed rail corridor between Delhi and Chennai.

Highly places sources told The Hindu that the finalisation of the study of the Delhi-Chennai corridor does not mean a commitment to award the high-speed rail contract to a Chinese company.

China’s mixed response to the prospect of a deal, which could turn travel time between Delhi and Chennai to around 6 hours, follows its recent debacle in Mexico. On November 3, Mexico’s transport minister, announced that China-the only bidder had won the contract for the 210 kilometre rail link between Mexico City and Queretaro, the upcoming industrial centre to the north. Yet, in an unexpected turn of events, Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto decided "to revoke the November 3 ruling and restart" the bidding process.

The commentary acknowledged that the “global reach of Chinese high-speed rail is still in its nascent stage,” but asserted that China “has become one of the very few countries that owns intellectual property rights for high-speed rail technology, and has achieved this in the space of only a decade”.

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Printable version | May 21, 2020 7:50:03 AM |

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