China prepared to share high-speed rail expertise

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Sharing with the world

China's rapid development of HS railway is having a far-reaching impact on transport, economy, as well as on social life.The world, in watching, also seems to have realized its significance.

The China-US Joint Statement published during Obama's visit to China in November 2009 stated "The two sides welcomed cooperation by public and private bodies on the development of high speed railway infrastructure." MOR signed a memorandum of understanding with GE on strategic cooperation. Another memorandum was signed with the Californian High-Speed Rail Authority.

China's MOR also signed an MOU with the transport department of Russia in October 2009 during the 14th prime ministers' meeting. Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Poland, the United Arab Emirates, India and many other countries have contacted China for similar reasons. "China is prepared to share its mature HS railway technology with other countries on the principle of mutual benefits and win-win cooperation," MOR chief engineer He Huawu said.

While China's domestic market was attractive to foreign firms, Chinese companies are eager to travel abroad. As chief coordinator, MOR is implementing a wide-spectrum out-going strategy. The ministry has set up a handful of coordinating groups, each specialized in affairs of a specific country or region. And diverse resources are organized into formidable collective bidding groups.

The impressive domestic construction readily demonstrated China's capability in HS rail development. Together with reasonable prices and preferential government policies in bank credits, insurance and taxes, Chinese bidders have proven fairly competitive on the international market.

"Government support is understandable. Other countries do the same. The policies are in conformity with WTO rules," Chen Juemin said.

The export of China's railway products is not limited to the HS system. China has rich experience in conventional railways and the upgrading of conventional lines. In the past two decades the country also witnessed a surge in constructing city metro and light rails with local government funds.

This export is all encompassing, from planning and designing, to construction of railways, to delivery of trains and the operational and maintenance systems. "With the out-going strategy, we aim to promote the China brand and standards on the international market," Chen Juemin said.

China also operates the world's first and only maglev railway in East China's coastal city Shanghai, where the world's largest expo is going on. The 30-km line adopted German technology, with a maximum speed approaching 430 km/h.

China is involved in on-going international projects such as the 468-km Tinaco-Anaco railway in Venezuela, the Ankara-Istanbul railway in Turkey, and the 18-km Mecca light rail in Saudi Arabia.

If the development of China's HS railway was unexpectedly fast, the MOR seemed caught by surprise with the out-going strategy. "We're late in preparing for overseas projects. Some projects we had not even heard of until we were invited to tender," Chen Juemin said, "It shows that foreign owners have confidence in our ability. But we need to do a better job in the future."

Officials at MOR were said to be going all out in the "out-going" move. One bottleneck was a shortage of talent, especially people competent in foreign languages. "There are too many unread foreign documents. And we need people who understand and are able to communicate with people of different cultures, " Chen noted.

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