The US is set to build a high-capacity high-voltage rail link linking the US and China to Europe via Beijing, as part of an ambitious plan to expand passenger and freight travel on the continent.US President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Monday to modernise the US rail system, and Chinese President Xi Jinping and other top officials are expected to discuss the link between the two countries in Beijing.
China is planning to build two high-frequency lines that will eventually link Beijing and Shenzhen, a city with a population of about 20 million.
The US-China high-passenger rail link is the first to have been approved by the US government, according to the US Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).
The $5.4 billion project will use existing rail lines between the US-Mexico border and Shenyang, China’s second largest city, and connect to high-performance trains.
The new rail link will link Shenzhen with Shenyang via the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, a mountainous stretch of land stretching along the border that has been used for years to transport grain and other agricultural goods.
China has already established rail links to the Gulf of Mexico, and the planned line will connect to a rail line that is under construction in the Gulf, a US official told AFP news agency.
It is a long-time goal of the US administration to link the two economies, which have been at odds since the 1970s, but there have been tensions between the Trump administration and China.US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in April that the US wanted to link China to the rest of the world through rail, and said the country should be the “first” to build such a link.
In August, China also agreed to build high-fibre and high-strength cable links that would link the eastern Chinese city of Suzhou to the western port of Shanghai.
“It’s time to connect the world,” said a senior Chinese official at the time.
The link will be financed with $2.5 billion in federal funds, with $1.5bn of that going to the FRA.
The money is part of a package that includes an infrastructure spending plan, the construction of a new high speed rail line, and a $1 billion contract to build the new US-built border fence between the Mexican state of Tamaulipas and Texas.
The rail link has been delayed by a dispute between the Obama administration and the Chinese over a $US1.6 billion loan.
Trump said in May that he wanted to build “the world’s largest high- speed rail network”, which would cost $US30 billion.
The deal is expected to be signed in Beijing, with a meeting of the two leaders expected to take place in Beijing later on Monday.
It comes as Beijing and Washington sign a deal to build an oil pipeline through the Gulf.
A joint US-Chinese effort to develop the pipeline was announced in May, with the US committing $US2 billion to the project.
The $US3.3 billion project has already received approval from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The pipeline would transport US crude oil from the Gulf to a pipeline that will be built in the US.
The pipeline is expected in 2027, but will be completed before that date.
“This project represents the culmination of years of joint US and Chinese efforts to advance economic development, security and environmental sustainability,” the US State Department said in a statement.
The FRA approved the deal, saying it would “ensure that the oil pipeline is built, operated and operated in accordance with all relevant laws and regulations”.