China is to build a 7,000-kilometre high-speed railway connecting its capital Beijing to Moscow which will reduce the journey time between the two cities to two days from five, reports IBT. The $242bn (£160bn, €210bn) project was confirmed in a Weibo post published by Beijing’s municipal government. The rail link will go through Kazakhstan and make travel between Asia and Europe easier, according to the post.
China and Russia had signed a memorandum of understanding on the ambitious project in October 2014. The construction of the project is expected to take eight to 10 years. The huge investment would mostly be made by China, as Russia’s economy has been hurt by the recent oil price plunge and Western sanctions, according to critics of the project. However, the high-speed rail line can provide many other long-term benefits that could make up for the cost of the investment, according to an earlier post on Sina’s military blog.
The new high-speed rail line can be used to increase the transfer of energy resources and food items, which are scarce in China, according to the blog. It noted that the rail network can be used to import some of Russia’s fertile soil to China to improve the quality of its overdeveloped land. Further, the rail line could be used by Chinese farmers to migrate to Russia and set up small agricultural villages.
The relationship between China and Russia has been strengthened as the latter is engaged in a political row with the US and Europe over its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. The countries earlier signed a $400bn deal for Russian gas giant Gazprom to build a pipeline and start gas supplies to China. The 30-year contract will enable the company to supply 38 billion cubic metres of gas to China per year.