Thu. Jun 20th, 2019

Thailand calls off China deal to fund high-speed railway

Thailand will not now be seeking financial help from China for financial backing of a high-speed railway connecting Bangkok to the provincial hub of Nakhon Ratchasima, instead financing the project itself, the country’s finance minister said on Friday.

The southeast Asian nation has been trying to secure a satisfactory finance deal from Beijing for the 250 km railway, seen as part of a wider network from southern China through Laos and south through Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

The main issue was the interest rate at which China offered to finance the deal, as well as the total investment cost. Thai transport minister Arkom Termpittayapaisith said that since the $5 billion project is a joint venture between two governments, China should have offered a loan at a “friendly rate that takes into consideration relations between China and Thailand”.

Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha said this week during a visit to China that Thailand would finance the project after failing to agree on terms with the Chinese capital. Prayuth said on Thursday that he had told Chinese Premier Li Keqiang of Thailand’s decision.

Since a military coup in 2014, the Thai junta has been trying to develop closer ties with China after the US and European countries criticised the coup. Thailand returned around 100 ethnic Uighur Muslim refugees from Xinjiang in western China, who were heading to Malaysia…

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