Faster, faster: Chinese scholar says quicker ECRL trains, speedier construction time possible

Gao (left) receiving a token of appreciation from Wong. – IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/The Star.

KUALA LUMPUR: A prominent Chinese scholar hopes the ECRL (East Coast Rail Link) project will be completed as two high-speed rail projects in South-East Asia have already been built.

"The Jakarta-Bandung high-speed rail and Laos-China high-speed rail have been completed. Hopefully, the ERCL project will be completed quickly, too," said Victor Gao, the chair professor at Soochow University and vice president of the Centre for China and Globalisation.

He also said the maximum speed for the ECRL trains here could be increased to 351kmph instead of 160kmph.

"Hopefully, it (ECRL train) will be faster. It will be 351kmph rather than that of the Indonesian high-speed railway (HSR) at 350kmph," he said.

The 648km-long ECRL route will traverse the east coast states of Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang before linking to the Klang Valley on the peninsula's west coast.

Gao, a prominent analyst who appears regularly on Al-Jazeera and CGTN (China Global Television Network), gave a talk here on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in the Asean region, attended by the media and think tank representatives.

The talk was organised by the Concorde Club, led by Star Media Group adviser and Bernama chairman Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai. It is an informal group of editors and senior journalists who meet with politicians and key policymakers.

Gao said China embarked on the BRI, which recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary, to share its experience and wealth capabilities with other countries.

"President Xi Jinping is doing the right thing. We really need to focus on this world, and we cannot just develop without sharing our experience and wealth capabilities with other countries.

"That is why more than 150 countries have joined the BRI," he said.

On the estimated US$1 trillion spent on the BRI, Gao believed China wanted to promote peace.

"If you really want to use war to solve problems, that's not US$1 trillion. It's US$2 trillion plus another US$2 trillion (for the Afghanistan war in which the United States was involved)," Gao said.

"If you look at the war in Ukraine, the United States said they have already spent US$100bil. And it is adding up because Ukraine still demands more money," he said.

Gao said it was cheaper to promote peace than to go to war.

"Building bridges, roads and connectivity is not only a better use of money but an investment," he said.

"A Saudi Arabian prince said the right thing. He said, 'China helped you to build a bridge, airport and seaport, but China will not be able to move them back to China. They (the infrastructure) stay in your country. So you are the beneficiary," he said.

"Whereas if you have a war, look at Gaza (war), they are razing Gaza, it's a shame. They are bombing everything," he lamented.

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