AMBITION- Apart from leading the world's drone market (see related item in this issue), China apparently is also keen to get involved in the global, or at least the regional, high speed train industry.
A clear example of this ambition is the proposed 350km high-speed train project between Singapore and Malaysia, which will slash travel time from the Lion City to Kuala Lumpur from hours by road to 90 minutes by rail.
When completed, the new link will compete head-on with all carriers serving the route, including Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Scoot, Air Asia, Jetstar and several others.
To be awarded by the end of next year, the project is reportedly worth billions of U.S. dollars, with most of the eight-stop line to be constructed in Malaysia, with the remaining 15km in Singapore.
China, as well as Japan, have started high-level lobbying for the lucrative contract which involves an open tender for the privately financed company that will design, build, finance and maintain the link will be called by the end of this year. It is likely to be awarded by the end of next year.
In addition to China and Japan, other interested players include France’s Alstom, Canada’s Bombardier, and the German industrial group Siemens.
While Japan has arguably build up a solid reputation in high-speed railway constructions with its Shinkansen system, China is also rapidly developing its own domestic high-speed rail network, requiring massive investments in construction and development of high-speed rail technologies.
The latest entrant in this specialised market is China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation, which last month announced plans to research a futuristic train network that would first run at 1,000km per hour between cities, eventually developing the technology to reach top speeds of 4,000km/h.
That target is well over 10 times faster than the maximum speed of existing bullet trains.
Whether this newcomer will be allowed to enter the fray for the Singapore-Malaysia project remains to be seen, but its high-speed concept underlines the spectacular development that Chinese technology firms, including the aerospace sector, have undergone in the past 20 years and one which reaffirms the country's leading economic position in the world.
China eyes high-speed train projects