Slow going for Chinese high-speed rail abroad - SupChina

Slow going for Chinese high-speed rail abroad

“There is no case of China exporting high-speed rail that can be described as very successful,” said a spokeswoman for the Beijing-based CRRC Qingdao Sifang, one of the largest train manufacturers in the world. While the rollout of new high-speed rail in China has gone at breakneck speed — the country already has the world’s largest rail network, with 22,000 kilometers (13,700 miles), and is set to expand it by 36 percent in the next three years — major deals abroad have stalled. In 2015, Mexico canceled a plan to bring in Chinese high-speed trains, and in 2016, Indonesia suspended a joint rail project with China worth $5.1 billion. Indonesia recently approved the operational permit for that project, but only after a full year of delays. Another potential deal last year to connect Las Vegas and Los Angeles never made it past the drawing board.

Possible reasons for difficulties overseas, the South China Morning Post reports, include customer base — few countries have China’s density or volume of commuters within and between major cities — and geography, as China has enough land that mountains can usually be avoided — a luxury not available in Southeast Asia, for example.

Lucas Niewenhuis

Lucas Niewenhuis is an associate editor at SupChina who helps curate daily news and produce the company's newsletter, app, and website content. Previously, Lucas researched China-Africa relations at the Social Science Research Council and interned at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. He has studied Chinese language and culture in Shanghai and Beijing, and is a graduate of the University of Michigan.