While China's working to build one of the most robust high-speed rail networks within its own borders, the country is also looking at connecting itself to its Southeast Asian neighbors. This will allow travelers to go from China to Singapore entirely by rail within just a day.
The rail line will make its first "international" stop in the border town of Boten in northern Laos. The zone's vice governor, Vixay Homsombath, is hoping the service will help revive the city's completely downtrodden economy.
While a specific plan for the network hasn’t been made, Chinese media have reported that China plans to first build a line through Laos, Thailand and Malaysia before it reaches Singapore. Additional lines stretching into Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar are also reportedly planned, while another network connecting western China and Central Asia toward Europe is being worked on.
The Laos stretch is likely to be the first, since it will be the easiest to build.
Critics argue that political and economic factors may not allow the project to go through, but if it succeeds it will definitely open the door for trade within the region.