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China's pan-Asian railway sputters to a halt in Thailand

Bangkok's indifference to Beijing's plan creates gap in Belt and Road network

Relations between Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and Chinese President Xi Jinping are under the spotlight as the success of Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative rests on Thai sector. (Source photos by Xinhua/Kyodo, Getty Images and Akira Kodaka) 

BANGKOK -- China's plan to build a pan-Asian railway through the Indochina region is sputtering as construction of a connection to Thailand has stalled due to deteriorating ties and both countries' diverging priorities.

Part of Beijing's plans for the region came to fruition in December when the China-Laos high-speed railway began operating. Beijing funded 70% of the $6 billion construction project, part of its Belt and Road Initiative. It has also extended loans to Laos to cover the rest. So far, it is believed that Laos has shelled out not much more than $100 million.

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