Rail Links as Leading Indicator

A number of rail link items have caught my attention recently, and I thought it worthwhile to pass them along. The first is this massive China-Turkey joint development of a Turkish high-speed rail project, with China financing the project to the tune of an estimated $30 billion. The second is this Burma project linking its deep-water port of Kyaukphyu to Kunming, the capital of China's southwestern province of Yunnan. Then there's this one, in Africa, linking South Sudan to Uganda. And finally, there's this rundown of the current rail projects in Southeast Asia.

We often talk about ties between two countries, and there are few more-concrete symbols of what that means than rail links. The network described in Asia will permit more robust intra-regional trade, while the South Sudan-Uganda link could turn out to be the export lifeline the former needs to be a viable nation. As for the China-Turkey project, just think of what a decade-long project like that entails in terms of technical working groups, on-site cooperation, and integration of diplomatic, industrial and financial networks. To even consider such a long-term commitment requires a reasonable assurance of stable relations moving forward, and the connections made in the course of the project end up reinforcing that stability. So while the Turkey-China military drill got a lot of attention, the rail project is a much more significant indicator of their deepening ties.

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