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China’s Belt and Road Initiative hits another dead-end

When the Laos section of the China-Liaoning railway opened last December, China initially wanted to promote the trans-Asian railway network and connect the railways to Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore.

Through its Belt and Road Initiative, China launched the Trans–Asian Railway network to avoid disputes in the South China Sea and over-reliance on maritime traffic in Malacca.

The main route of this road route is the China–Liaoning railway, which is more than 1,000 km long, connecting Kunming, China, and the Lao capital Vientiane. The Laos rail line section was officially opened in early December 2021.

China will use the China–Liaoning Railway to connect with the railways in Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore to promote the Trans–Asia Railway network.

Thailand has become the locomotive of the Trans–Asian Railway network, which can connect with Malaysia and Singapore.

Nikkei Asia reported that China had committed to providing capital for the newly established Sino-Thai joint venture, hoping to complete the connection by 2020 before opening the Sino–Liaoning route.

But by the time construction started in 2017, China had changed plans for the project entirely.

Bangkok considers Beijing’s demands unreasonable, including terms of loans and the use of Chinese materials and labor, and China also demands more control over areas along the railway line.

Thailand canceled the Sino-Thai joint construction plan, deciding that they will bear the total construction cost of 170 billion Baht ($5 billion) entirely.

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