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China offers to build coast-to-coast railway across South America

Beijing, Jul 17 (PTI) : President Xi Jinping, firming up China's engagement with resource-rich Latin America, has offered to build a railway network across the continent, considered the backyard of the US.

During his meet with Peruvian President Ollanta on Wednesday, Xi proposed that China, Peru and Brazil form a working group to promote cooperation on the project.

He suggested that a trilateral working group be established to guide their cooperation in all related aspects including planning, design, construction and operation of the transcontinental railway, state run China Daily said today.

Experts say collaboration on the railway project, which would run from the Peruvian Pacific coast to the Brazilian Atlantic coast, will be a good example of China's positive impact on the Latin American continent, the Daily said.

Jon Taylor, a professor of political science at the University of St Thomas in Houston, said Chinese expertise in infrastructure development most notably railroads is being welcomed across the Latin America.

“The possibility of building a railway from Peru to Brazil, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, as well as major road and river connection projects, is quite intriguing and an obvious area for overseas foreign direct investment on the part of China,” Taylor said.

”China is quickly displacing the region's traditional partners like Europe and the United States,” he said.

Xi said China attaches great importance to mutually beneficial cooperation on infrastructure construction with Latin American countries, and stands ready to maintain communications with Peru and Brazil on the railway project.

Ken Goldstein, an economist with the Conference Board, a business research group in New York, said China's contribution including capital and expertise to help the Latin American region on infrastructure development will create a “win-win” model for all.

”It's like something similar to what China is doing in Africa, by helping improve the infrastructure of the domestic economies (in Latin America), it increases the potential market for goods and services coming out of China,” Goldstein said.

Xingqiang He, an associate professor at the Institute of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said more infrastructure investment in a wide range of sectors in Latin American countries means deeper economic cooperation between China and those countries.

”China has been seeking good opportunities for overseas investment in recent years and it has huge foreign reserves while the availability of capital is a huge problem that Latin America countries are facing,” said He.

”In that case, a win-win result could be expected,” he added.