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China's High-Speed Rail Reaches into Southeast Asia

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Then there is the fact that in addition to moving passengers, this high-speed rail network could just as easily move freight.

In this regard, the benefits are undeniable. The network passes through one of Thailand's main agricultural regions and the ability of farmers in Thailand's northeast to move produce from their farms directly to China by rail would reduce time to market and increase exports - including exports that aren't practical at the moment.

Articles like Bloomberg's, "Thailand forges new path for food exports to China," explains the current options available for moving Thai produce to Chinese markets. This includes moving goods by trucks through Laos and Vietnam. It also includes via air.

The article also notes more recent attempts to use rail in Vietnam, stating:

Thailand began a two-mode system by trucking products to Vietnam, then moving the goods into containers on trains, which complete the deliveries to China. It may sound simple, but this is a first for Thai shipments, according to Narapat Kaeothong, vice minister for agriculture.

How much simpler would it be to place goods on a single train and transport it at higher speeds straight to China, or anywhere else along high-speed rail lines?

Acknowledging possibly low passenger numbers, Thailand has already considered the utility of using the network to move freight as well.

The South China Morning Post (SCMP) would report in its article, " Thailand pushes for high-speed rail link with China to be used for freight," that:

Vallobh Muangkeo, secretary general of the National Assembly of Thailand, told the South China Morning Post that Thailand had concerns about low demand for the service and called for it to be used to transport freight instead.

High-speed rail services handling freight is not unprecedented.

France's TGV La Poste used dedicated trains specifically for moving mail across the country. Similar trains could be used by Thailand, Laos, and future countries in the region connected to the high-speed rail network to move large amounts of goods quickly and directly to China as well as receive goods from China.

China itself plans on using its own high-speed rail network to move freight. A SCMP article titled, " China planning high-speed rail freight network to help e-commerce sector," noted:

China's state-owned railway operator is planning to accelerate the development of a high-speed freight network in the hope of bolstering the e-commerce network.

A development plan published in mid-August also includes plans to further expand the passenger network and build an advanced control system that will integrate home-grown technologies such as 5G telecommunications, the Beidou satellite navigation system and artificial intelligence.

It is not a difficult leap to imagine how easily this network could be extended into Laos and Thailand just as China plans on moving passenger services into both nations.

China is already Thailand and Laos' largest trading partner, largest foreign investor, largest source of tourism, and a key partner in defense and infrastructure.

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Brian Joseph Thomas Berletic (A.K.A. Tony Cartalucci) is a Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer.  Tony is a American industrial designer living in Bangkok, Thailand since he left the United States Marine Corps and the US altogether in 2004.

Since he began writing about politics he has used pen (more...)

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