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China launches first cross-sea bullet train line near Taiwan Strait

China launches first cross-sea bullet train line near Taiwan Strait
China's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin addresses the media during a press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, China, 05 June 2023. China said that the maneuver of their ship, the Chinese PLA Navy vessel 'Luyang III' was legal, professional and safe during a near collision with the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile Aegis destroyer 'USS Chung-Hoon' in the Taiwan Strait on 03 June 2023. EPA-EFE/MARK R. CRISTINO

China launched its first high-speed rail line that will travel across several bays and skim along the coast of the southeastern province of Fujian near the Taiwan Strait, state media reported on Thursday.

A bullet train departed from Fuzhou, the capital of east China’s Fujian province Thursday morning, setting up the opening of the 277-km (172-mile) Fuzhou-Xiamen-Zhangzhou railway, Xinhua reported.

It is China’s first cross-sea, rapid line with bullet trains that will travel over bridges across three coastal bays and hit top speeds of 350 km per hour (218 mph), state media said, citing China State Railway Group Co Ltd, the country’s railway operator.

Travel time between Fuzhou and Xiamen, an economic hub and popular tourist destination, will be under an hour.

China Railway Siyuan Survey and Design Group Co Ltd designed the railway project. By 2022, China had 42,000 km of operational high-speed railway, and the length of high-speed rail regularly operating at 350 km per hour neared 3,200 km as of June 2022.

China recently announced details of its plan to turn Fujian into a zone for integrated development with Taiwan, which sits opposite the province.

China is hoping the link will enhance investment opportunities and make travel easier.

A Chinese government official said an integrated multidimensional transportation network has been built in Fujian that “will make it technically possible to construct a high-speed transport passage linking the province with Taiwan,” according to state media.

Taiwan has dismissed previous Chinese plans to link the island to the rail network, which would require construction of the world’s longest undersea tunnel beneath the Taiwan Strait.

Asked about the comments, Taiwan’s China-policy making Mainland Affairs Council said such infrastructure projects could not be “unilaterally decided”, adding that even China’s overseas Belt and Road investments needed to be discussed with host countries.

China cut off a formal talks mechanism with Taiwan’s government in 2016.

Separately, earlier this week China unveiled its first commercial suspended monorail line in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province.

The monorail, covering 10.5 km (6.5 miles), is fully automated and only requires human operation in an emergency, China Daily reported.

(Reporting by Bernard Orr and Beijing newsroom; Additional reporting by Jeanny Kao and Ben Blanchard in Taipei; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Miral Fahmy)

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