Sunday, September 14, 2014

High-speed race for China and Japan to export rail technology

The signing of the standard gauge railway agreement attended by Premier Li Keqiang of China, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and President Salva Kiir of South Sudan at the State House Nairobi, May 11. (File photo/Xinhua)
The signing of the standard gauge railway agreement attended by Premier Li Keqiang of China, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and President Salva Kiir of South Sudan at the State House Nairobi, May 11. (File photo)
Beijing (and) Tokyo: Though China and Japan have been competing ferociously for overseas high-speed railway projects, they actually work together in the supply chain, with China bagging railway contracts and Japan exporting locomotives.
An example of such a tie-up can be seen in the United Kingdom, where China is more likely to win the tender for building a railway while Japan stands a better chance of supplying the trains, said Bai Yimin, a Chinese national who has worked for Japan’s Mitsui Business Group.
Japan still needs to outsource many orders to companies in China if it wins tenders, while China also has to study Japanese technology after it wins a bid, which Bai said is a win-win situation.
Japan’s Asahi Shimbun reported that China is gearing up to export its high-speed rail technology, targeting emerging markets in Africa, Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe. Likewise, Japanese government officials and entrepreneurs have been actively promoting high-speed rail technology in India, Europe, the United States and Southeast Asia.
Japan, which has been a global leader in the manufacture of high-speed trains, is expected to establish its advantage in the global industry as its manufacturing of appliances slows down.
Japan’s transport minister has called for a tender to be submitted for the Malaysia-Singapore high-speed rail project based on Japan’s bullet train technology. The project, linking Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, is 350 kilometers long and tenders will be invited in 2015.
China on the other hand signed an agreement in May with five African countries to construct a high-speed train linking Nairobi and Mombasa in Kenya. Construction will begin in October.
In addition, Premier Li Keqiang has promoted China’s high-speed rail technology in several countries on his trips abroad, including Thailand, Turkey and the United Kingdom over the last two years.
On June 24, China’s CSR Corporation signed an agreement with Macedonia, under which China will sell six bullet trains to the European country, the first such deal China has struck in Europe.
Japan isn’t standing idly by. To facilitate exports of Shinkansen, a network of high-speed railway lines manufactured in Japan and operated by four Japan Railways Group companies, the Japanese government established the International High-Speed Rail Association in March 2013 with the aim to secure high-speed rail projects in Europe, Southeast Asia, Brazil and Australia, while Japanese companies have also participated in the government projects.
Bai said Japanese enterprises are trying to make connections with companies in Southeast Asian countries to help them win tenders for major projects there.
China mostly exports high-speed rail technology through political cooperation.
However, both China and Japan have been facing obstacles in certain developing countries where the political and economic situation can be unstable, especially in Thailand, Brazil, Vietnam and India.

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