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The Big Story

Why China is determined to connect Southeast Asia by rail

Planned 3,000-km rail network raises debt, sovereignty concerns

MITSURU OBE and MARIMI KISHIMOTO, Nikkei staff writers | ASEAN

TOKYO/LUANG PRABANG, Laos -- When Japanese trading house Itochu and train maker Hitachi withdrew from a soon-to-be-decided $7 billion tender for a high-speed rail project near Bangkok, it appeared to be another victory for China and its grand plans to connect Southeast Asia with railways.

Thailand has for decades been the centerpiece of Tokyo's strategy for Southeast Asia, and long-discussed plans to build extensive shinkansen-style rail lines in the country's east and north were meant to cement the relationship between the two nations.

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