What Happened: Thailand's public railway company is expected to sign a public-private partnership on Oct. 25 for a 220-kilometer (137-mile) high-speed rail project worth $7.5 billion linking airports to five provinces under the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), The Thaiger reported Oct. 15. The project will move forward under a consortium led by a Thai company but which will also include Chinese state-owned China Railway Construction Corp. and China Resources Group, as well as the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, among others.
Why It Matters: The railway, which provides an opportunity for Japan and China to cooperate on big-ticket infrastructure projects, comes as Thailand is looking to expand its rail infrastructure under the EEC. China is building a separate rail link through Thailand to link its southwestern provinces to Southeast Asia.
Background: As part of its Belt and Road Initiative, China has been delivering significant investments for infrastructure projects across Southeast Asia, prompting concerns among Japanese policymakers, who fear that Beijing is rivaling Tokyo's status as a patron for regional projects.
- Southeast Asia Is on the Front Lines of the U.S.-China Trade War (Sept. 20, 2019)
- Japan Woos a Region Caught Between the U.S. and China (May 13, 2019)
- China's Economic Pain Will Power Southeast Asia's Gains (Feb. 25, 2019)