In Bangkok, Chinese Foreign Minister Wants Quick Start to Railway Project

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, at left, talks to Thai counterpart Don Pramudwinai at a Monday news conference at the Foreign Ministry in Bangkok. Wang is on a two-day official visit to Thailand for bilateral cooperation between the two countries. Photo: Sakchai Lalit / Associated Press

BANGKOK — China’s foreign minister says he hopes construction of a new Thai railway can start immediately so Thailand will have better access to Chinese markets.

Wang Yi is on an official visit to strengthen political and economic relations, which have become increasingly warm in recent years as China has sought to spread its influence and Thailand’s military government has loosened ties with the United States.

The joint Thai-Chinese plan for a new 179 billion baht (USD$5.3 billion) railway from Bangkok to the northeast has been repeatedly delayed, largely over differences about financing, but last month Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha issued a special order to expedite construction.

The railroad is part of China’s “One Belt, One Road” project allowing cross-border development and connectivity among Asian countries, Africa, China and Europe.

Related stories:

Govt Approves 179 Billion Baht for Controversial High-Speed Railway Project