Chinese trains on California tracks

The Ministry of Railways on Monday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Bay Area Council for investing in California's future high-speed rail network.

Under the MOU, the council will provide assistance and consultancy services on high-speed railway construction to the Ministry of Railways and other companies under the ministry.

The Bay Area Council is a business-sponsored organization comprising 275 large companies in Los Angeles and the Silicon Valley in California.

The agreement was inked during California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's visit to China. "We look to China to build our high-speed rail, to be part of the bidding process that we are going to go through," Schwarzenegger was quoted by Reuters on Monday in a speech made in Shanghai.

"Many countries will be bidding to build our high-speed rail, (and we plan) also to look for financing from China," Schwarzenegger said.

California was recently given permission to construct a high-speed railway between Los Angeles and San Francisco at an estimated cost of over $40 billion by 2020.

Schwarzenegger, accompanied by Ministry of Railways officials, took a high-speed train in Shanghai on Sunday to gain first-hand experience.

The former Hollywood star is heading a US state with a $19.1 billion budget deficit, and is looking for closer relations with cities such as Shanghai, which are transforming into global financial centers.

On Monday, the Bay Area Council and Shanghai Private Equity Association inked an agreement to set up a Financial Services Knowledge Exchange focused on venture capital development in Shanghai.

SVB ESG (Silicon Valley Bank Entrepreneur Service Group) will provide financial knowledge communication and expertise in venture capital, technology and life science in China through its representative office in Shanghai.

Four agreements were also signed on carbon emission and high technology between California's delegates and their Chinese counterparts on Monday.

Schwarzenegger also visited manufacturing base of Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industry Co in the city's Changxing Island, where the steel deck segments of the new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge are being manufactured.

The self-anchored suspension span is the largest engineering project in California's history with $6.3 billion investment and will be completed by 2013. ZPMC obtained a contract worth $250 million to fabricate the decks and the steel segments for the eastern span's main tower.

California is one of the top exporters to China, with export volumes of more than $9.7 billion in 2009.

Schwarzenegger is on a six-day trip to Asia, and since last Friday has been in China. He has visited Shanghai, Hangzhou of Zhejiang province, and Nanjing of Jiangsu province. He will also visit Japan and South Korea.

(China Daily, September 14, 2010 )