Asean needs a Middle Path

Despite the economic downturn during the Covid-19 pandemic, China-sponsored infrastructure, trade and cooperation initiatives with Southeast Asian nations have been moving forward consistently — amplifying the presence of Beijing in one of the world’s fastest growing regions.

One recent landmark event was the inauguration of the 414-kilometre China-Laos high-speed railway on Dec 3. The $5.9-billion route connects the Lao capital Vientiane with Boten on the Laos-China border, where it is linked to the line heading to Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan province.

Part of China’s vast Belt and Road Initiative, the project is seen as part of a Pan-Asian railway — running from Kunming down to Singapore and crossing strategic cities including Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur — that will propel trade between China and mainland Southeast Asia and beyond.

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