Author Topic: Japan's overseas railway-building heightens rivalry with China  (Read 1667 times)


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Japan's overseas railway-building heightens rivalry with China
« on: December 12, 2019, 06:50:47 AM »
Japan's overseas railway-building heightens rivalry with China
Crowded Philippine trains benefiting from Tokyo's cash and know-how

Wu Shang-Su
OCTOBER 30, 2019 03:00 JST

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Since the inauguration of President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016, a variety of rail projects have been proposed and many contracted to Tokyo and Beijing. The Japan International Cooperation Agency, or JICA, has helped to coordinate schemes including the repair/upgrade of Manila's third metro line, the extension of two lines of the capital's light railway and more.

At the same time, Chinese contractors will build the railway on Mindanao island, the Clark-Subic line north of Manila and the rebuilt southern main line.

Beijing is building longer tracks than Tokyo, but Tokyo's projects have broader benefits.

Although China's three rail projects are hundreds of kilometers long, they are either outside Manila or connect to the south of Luzon island, with less economic significance.

In contrast, the Japanese contracts are mainly in the Metro Manila area or connect the capital and major economic locations, such as Laguna and the new city development at Clark. In addition, the staff of the Philippine Railway Institute have begun their training in Japan.

There are several reasons for this Japan/China split. Several years back JICA conducted research for the Philippine government on various projects, giving Tokyo important intelligence and perhaps building a sense of trust with Manila.

Meanwhile, the poor bilateral relations between the Philippines and China before 2016 meant China did not have the opportunity to understand the Philippines' needs.

China's focus is elsewhere too, with the ongoing fever of the Belt and Road Initiative. Chinese rail experts are occupied with various projects in Central Asia, Indochina and Africa. The Philippines, a chain of islands, does not have the ability to connect with China's Asia-wide system of land transport.

The Philippines' practical approach to modernizing its rail sector reduces China's trump card, cheap high-speed railway, or HSR. Unlike Bangkok and Jakarta, where China is building HSR, Manila has not proposed any HSR project, and this may reflect financial constraints, uneven urban development and the nature of an island nation.

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« Last Edit: December 12, 2019, 07:00:24 AM by adroth »