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Fri, Mar 10, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Foreign technology not wanted for fast train, Beijing says

NEW LINK The project will mainly use home-grown technology and `assimilate' some aspects of overseas technology, the railways minister said

AP , BEIJING

China yesterday said that it will not use foreign technology to build a high-speed Beijing-Shanghai railway link -- a multibillion-dollar project that had triggered a bidding war among Japanese, German and French companies.

"We are confident and capable of completing the railway through the efforts of our engineers and technicians,'' the official China Daily newspaper quoted Railways Minister Liu Zhijun (劉志軍) as saying.

However, Liu said the homegrown technology used for the 200 billion yuan (US$24.86 billion) railway will assimilate some elements of those developed overseas. He did not elaborate.

Unclear

It was not immediately clear whether China may involve foreign contractors in building the 1,300km line.

However, the key profit opportunities for foreign companies had been in the selling of their proprietary technology, not construction.

Work on the new railway may start as early as the end of this year, the report said. The project was first proposed in 1994 and originally scheduled for completion before Beijing hosts the 2008 Olympic Games, or in time for the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai.

But debate over what technology would be used has delayed progress, especially after it sparked a heated bidding war among companies from Japan, Germany and France, the report said.

It did not give any details about the type of technology China plans to use.

China's many planned railway development projects have held out the possibility of extremely lucrative opportunities for foreign companies.

It intends to build 5,400km of high-speed railways with an investment of over 1 trillion yuan in the next four years, the China Daily said yesterday.

Overreliance?

However, the report said China's central government appears concerned about relying too much on foreign involvement.

"Foreign companies will never give us up-to-date technologies," it quoted a report from last year in the official Science & Technology Daily as saying.

The new Beijing-Shanghai line is expected to cut rail travel time to less than five hours from 13, the newspaper said.

Japan had been lobbying China to use its Shinkansen bullet train technology for the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed line, France its TGV system, and Germany its magnetic levitation or maglev, the paper said.

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