Connecting Asia: India Talks, China Builds

At the recently concluded summit in Delhi with the leaders of South East Asia, India declared its strong political commitment to improving connectivity between the two regions.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the South East Asian leaders showed up at a celebration in the national capital to mark the conclusion of the ASEAN-India car rally. The participants in the rally drove nearly 8000 km through South East Asia and eastern India to arrive in Delhi in time for the special summit.  

If Delhi is good at declarations and symbolic gestures, Beijing has set a scorching pace for the construction of infrastructure projects and the promotion of connectivity between China and the nations across its borders.

This week alone a clutch of mega Chinese infrastructure initiatives have been reported from South East Asia.

In the first a large Chinese iron and steel company in Cambodia has tied up with China Railway to build a 400 km rail line to connect a green field steel plant in the northern part of the country to a port on Koh Kong, the southern commercial island in the Gulf of Thailand.

The steel plant could cost up to $2 billion and the rail link will come at an estimated price tag of nearly $10 billion, according a report by the Reuters. Analysts following Cambodian economy say this could be the largest project ever in the nation.

Meanwhile another Chinese company Sinomach Perfect Machinery has tied up with Cambodian Petrochemical to build an oil refinery capable of processing five million metric tons of crude oil a year. The price tag is nearly $2.5 billion.

In the neighbouring land-locked Laos, the 'New York Times' reported, China has announced plans to build a high-speed train link between Kunming in the South Western Yunnan province and Vientiane, the capital of Laos.

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