Vietnam regains position on BRI with another line to China
A new rail freight service between China and Vietnam was launched this week. On Tuesday, a train departed from the Chinese hub of Xi’an in the direction of Hanoi, realising the first Vietnam railway connection with Shaanxi province. Xi’an was not the first place of departure, the train orginated from Kazakhstan.
Rail freight connections between China and Vietnam have seen an uptake this year. This is partly thanks to the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor. This trade and logistics passage jointly built by Singapore and provincial-level regions of western China allows for multimodal links from many regions in China to many regions in southeast Asia.
Chongqing is at the heart of the corridor. It is here that cargo from Chinese provinces is bundled for transport further south, or further into China. In March this year, the first train departed from this Chinese city to Vietnam. The Xi’an-Hanoi railway link runs through Chongqing as well. Thanks to this hub-and-spoke system, the journey covering 2,384 km now takes 8 days. Previously, this would have been a sea-rail link, with much longer transit times.
Vietnam to Europe
The link via Chongqing is however not the only way China connects to Vietnam. In fact, a lot of rail freight traffic runs between the countries as part of the longer journey to or from Europe. This cargo is collected in for example Zhengzhou or Suzhou before it continues on the New Silk Road. A good example is the service Hanoi-Zhengzhou-Liege, which is now up and running after a rough start earlier this year.
The railway link between Vietnam and Belgium via Zhengzhou was cancelled in March this year, just after it was established. This was due to the war in Ukraine, and the implications this had on transit traffic through Russia. But in July this year, the Vietnam Railways Corporation coordinated a container train departing from Yen Vien Station (Vietnam) to connect with Liege city (Belgium), then overland transit to the destination city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
More focus on Southeastern Europe
China has enhanced its focus on the connections with southeast Asian countries in recent years.. The total trade volume between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, in the first seven months of this year amounted to 3.53 trillion yuan (about 514.3 billion U.S. dollars).
The New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor is an essential part of this effort. Due to the new railway service, transport between the various countries can be carried out much faster.