Last year, China laid out a plan to extend its high speed rail network all the way to Germany and London to the West and down to Singapore to the south by 2020. And naturally the Internet chorus called it politically untenable and economically unfeasible, a pie-in-the-sky project from an overly ambitious regime. China has a long way to go to prove those naysayers wrong, but the first steps are underway. China has hammered out a deal to extend its rail network into northern Laos, the first leg of a line that will--China hopes--ultimately terminate in Singapore.
The eventual plan is to extend the line through Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, and Malaysia on its way to the bottom of the Malay Peninsula. To do so, China will have to negotiate with a host of different governments--some of whom are opposed to one another--in order to economically link Southeast Asia. And it seems China is starting with the path of least resistance.
Laos is one of Asia's poorest nations, currently maintaining just two miles of railroad. Landlocked and without many natural resources to barter, Laos hopes the railway will increase tourism, revitalize the country's gambling industry, and otherwise bring outside wealth across the border. Next to Thailand or Vietnam, which may want more control or other political concessions out of the deal, Laos is an easy stretch of track to build and could serve as a demonstration that China is making good on its vision of a connected continent.
As for China, if it can extend its track beyond Laos and into Thailand and/or Burma, it gets an extra layer of economic security via access to the Indian Ocean (and, via oil tanker, Middle Eastern crude) as well as to its Asian neighbors. From a more macro perspective, it's the first step in integrating a geographic region known historically for sharp political disagreements among neighbors and isolationist regimes (Myanmar, for instance, and formerly Cambodia and China itself). And it's a first step toward a true trans-Asian network that cold eventually reach west to Russia and beyond. Laos certainly isn't London, but it's a start.
China is smart to do this. Imagine the advantage this would give them and it just makes sense. What's shocking is the fact that this isn’t already a reality. China has a challenge ahead of them and I hope it they can reach their goal. It's going to benefit many more lives than China alone.
I love American. Don7t get me wrong. But China now has what made America so wonderful and now completely lacks. Ambition!
wow good and exciting stuff... but on the flip side, the chinese have a warship parked off the coast of our territory claiming it theirs, giving our fishermen glancing "warning" shots and of course we have nothing to answer back with...
looks like we're screwed. time to move to canada
I agree with you 100% inaka rob. America has the resources and infrastructure to extend the limits in a lot of fields. But, as you put it, ambition is lacking. That is one of the things that disappoints me the most. The lead that America was given by our parents and grandparents generation is being squandered by visionless and corrupt politicians and a society that is focusing on the “Here, Me and Now” and not the welfare and stability of the next generation.
Oh imagine USA running a rail line to the tip of South America. Imagine too the number of illegals riding shotgun....
Is anyone concerned at all about providing a fast/easy way for China to deliver infantry across Asia/Russia/Europe/Middle East?
Seems like having this railroad network is just begging for China to load up a couple million soldiers on the trains and send them to conquer half the planet...
Certainly wouldn't be the first time something like that has occurred: http://www.feldgrau.com/dreichsbahn.html
@ekisom...what planet do you live on?
hmmm? a rail line moving troops to attack, one cruise missle, rail line gone, a bit old school, don't you think?
It is old school... but effective if they have electronically compromised our missile defense systems...
The biggest question is why? The article suggests that China wants to spend its own money to prop up Laos's economy and other southeast asian nations in order to provide more "Economic Security" by having access to the Indian Ocean and, consequently, oil from the mideast. High speed rail works for passenger traffic and time sensitive deliveries only. Not for oil.
With all the gaming hours spent by Americans, the least we can do is learn from them (Railroad Tycoon).
With Laos being a poor nation, I am more inclined to think of Tibet as an example of what China has in mind.
What also comes to mind is a recent news item regarding Viet Nam asking the US to intercede for them regarding their rights to the South China Sea over claims being made by China.
As with a couple other commenters, I too want the US to step up to the innovative plate. But, unlike a communist gov, our political system has created a morass for the entrepreneur (Civilizations).
MERICUHH F*** YEAH! I'm so glad we're the new 3rd world.
@B.V., a dumb bomb can take out a train, our defense network is probably more secure than people give it credit for
A dumb bomb COULD take out a train...
But our counter-measures really depend on several things:
If they have physically crashed our satellites, or have hacked into the feeds, they might temporarily postpone detection--perhaps even long enough to get a significant foothold into other countries along the train tracks.
They could even go with a lower-tech approach (like Germany did) and use civilian trains in disguise to move troops around... so the satellite photos might not look like much is going on, even though all of the trains are filled with Chinese troops.
If/When we DO detect that they are mobilizing, what are going to be our response capabilities?
I think that will largely depend on whether or not we have already been compromised electronically. If we have, the U.S. response will be significantly delayed, giving China even more opportunity to establish forward operating bases in the countries it's invading.
Eventually though, sure, we will notice, and probably mount a response.
For that response to be effective at beating back the invasion, we have to have superior capabilities than the Chinese.
We have to have a more powerful air force, navy, army, "digital army", etc.
Certainly this is true today--if China went crazy and lashed out TODAY, we could probably beat them back.
However, the Chinese are also working hard at catching up to our level of military technology. It's not too crazy to imagine a few decades in the future where China and US have equally powerful air force, or navy, or military technology in general.
The Chinese have something today, that even we don't have: numbers.
They have over a billion people... we have like 300 million.
"All other things being equal" the largest army usually will win.
china is a real threat, good thing there is a wide ocean between us, the rail lines would already be known to us, no need for satelites, our U2 planes can be tasked quicker than a satelite can be tasked (this is why we still have them and yes, they are vulnerable, but the pilots know the risk), we definately need to keep the best military or else, unfortunately this is very expensive but still vital
When I was talking about satellites I was trying to communicate the idea of knowing what is traveling on the track in "real-time" as opposed to general knowledge of the track.
For instance, we know that highways between the US and Canada exist, but that's different from seeing a convoy of tanks traveling down the highways towards the U.S./Canada border via real-time streaming through a satellite.
Of course I'm not trying to say that China def. plans to take over the world and these rail lines are part of the master plan... I'm just saying that the faster/easier it is to move goods/people around, the faster/easier it is to move weapons/soldiers around.
Hopefully that consideration is in the minds of the policy makers who approve/reject the final proposals and easements.
of course real time is better than pics from planes, soon uav's will loiter over head indefinately, better than satelites, i do agree with most of what you say, it would seem china's air assets would do it better, at least in the beginning of an attack
Errm, well yes but:
You should bear in mind that if China sends troops westwards they have to deal with the EU. An area that is more economically powerful than China (or the US), has a total military budget that exceeds China's (but doesn't exceed the US's!?). They have 2.2M active troops, we have 1.5M, they have 0.8M reserve, we have 4.5M. We generally match or exceed the hardware they have, and have significantly more combat experienced troops, who would be operating on home soil.
Swings and roundabouts, but I think we just might win without needing the US's help at all.
Also, the likelihood of China attempting to do this is slim to none. You've seen the worst case scenario and are focusing on it, consider the less severe but more plausible risks. (whatever they are)
in the current world economy they would have too much too lose, but if the world economy calapses for good i think they may have a change of heart