China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group, a subsidiary of China Railways, is reportedly considering a bid for the 830-km Mindanao Railway Project. A successful Chinese tender would help make good on Xi Jinping’s 2016 promise to invest $24 billion in the Philippines, with a focus on heavy infrastructure. Beijing is under pressure to maintain good relations with Manila, as its island-building activities in the South China Sea risk stoking tensions. From Beijing’s perspective, continuing to cultivate its tightening relationship with the Philippines would likely advance this cause (particularly with another ASEAN member state).
The Mindanao railway project was first raised almost two decades ago. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, the country’s first Mindanaoan leader, has made the commencement of construction on the railway a core goal for his term, giving this announcement political value. Feasibility studies have already been completed and it is hoped construction will commence soon after the award of a tender in 2018.
A successful bid by CREEG would follow the company’s contract for the construction of the 1,700-km Chengdu-Lhasa railway, dubbed by some as the world’s riskiest. The company is also contributing to design work for Russia’s Moscow-Kazan high-speed railway and is considering a bid for the heavily-delayed California high-speed railway project.