China has announced it has acquired a Russian contract to build a high-speed Beijing-Moscow railway, which will cut travel time down to just 48 hours.
The 240 billion USD contract came as the fruit of an October 2014 meeting between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The 7,000 km of new track and 2-day trip will compete with the current 6-day Trans-Siberian Railway journey.
While travel and tourism are what we find most appealing about the deal, WantChinaTimes.com (referencing Sina’s military blog) explained in a post last year that the new line will most likely serve to meet China’s ever-expanding energy and food needs.
China’s two main basic needs are energy and food, the post said. Russia is not afraid of the US and the West because it has these two things in ample supply, but China does not.
The new high-speed rail line can be used to increase the transfer of energy resources such as oil and gas, though this alone will be insufficient to justify the line’s construction.
The blog therefore suggests that the high-speed rail network can be used to import some of Russia’s fertile soil to China to improve the quality of its overdeveloped land. One of the first things the Germans did when they invaded during World War II was to dig up soil to transport back to Germany, the blog noted.
Another option is to use the rail line to help Chinese farmers migrate into Russia to set up small villages for the purpose of agricultural development. The new produce from these farming communities can be used to supply food to both countries and such an arrangement can help Russia make up for its lack of manpower as China has excess workers. [source]
Additionally, the project will greatly decrease travel time between both Moscow and Beijing to Russia’s oil-rich city of Kazan.
The project represents the first leg in the ambitious railway announced last May that will connect North East Asia with North America. The new trans-Pacific high-speed rail is planned to begin in Beijing and travel north through Siberia, under the Bering Strait via a 200 km tunnel to Alaska, south through Canada, arriving finally in a yet-unknown US terminus.