Dismay From China After Mexico Cancels High-Speed Rail Bid

Dismay From China After Mexico Cancels :Mexico’s decision to cancel a Chinese-led bid to build a high-speed rail system has triggered reactions ranging from surprise to scorn in China, which has prided itself on the rapid expansion of its own rail network and on bringing that technology to other countries.

The $3.7 billion rail project to build a 130-mile line connecting Mexico City and Querétaro in central Mexico was scrapped last week amid concerns about the bidding process. The sole bid was made by a consortium of the state-owned China Railway Construction Corporation and four Mexican construction companies, some with links to President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico. Opposition politicians complained that the deal appeared to be tainted by crony capitalism.

A prominent news website in Mexico has alleged that Mr. Peña Nieto’s home is registered to a company owned by one of the Mexican companies involved in the high-speed rail bid. The president’s office responded that Mr. Peña Nieto’s wife, the actress Angélica Rivera, signed the contract for the house on her own almost a year before he took office, The Associated Press reported.

Mr. Peña Nieto is scheduled to visit China and Australia this week, a trip that could bring further attention to the embarrassing reversal of the rail deal. The Mexican authorities say they plan to reopen bidding to the project to give other companies a better opportunity to compete.

China’s National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s leading economic planning body, called the move to nullify the bid unexpected, and it sought to distance China from any allegations of impropriety.

“According to our understanding, the Chinese side’s participation in the bidding process has always complied with the Mexican government’s bidding requirements,” the commission said in a statement posted to its website. “Additionally we understand that the cancellation of the bid is due to domestic factors in Mexico, and is unrelated to the Chinese side.”

Chinese state media commentary was more critical of Mexico’s move. “Many people’s first thought was: Is Mexico joking?” read a commentary in the Communist Party-owned newspaper Global Times. “How can the tender for a project worth billions be pulled so carelessly?”

The Beijing News called it the “broken promise of Mexico’s high-speed rail.” A commentary carried by Sina’s news portal blamed the difficulties of working in a developing country for the move.

China’s efforts to develop its own high-speed rail network have been marked by both pride and dismay. Since 2007, it has rolled out 7,000 miles of high-speed lines at home, an unprecedented expansion. But the safety of the system was brought into question after a crash near the eastern city of Wenzhou in 2011 that killed 40 people and injured at least 190 more. Liu Zhijun, the former head of the Ministry of Railways, was given a suspended death sentence last year for taking millions of dollars worth of bribes for construction projects.

Dismay From China After Mexico Cancels High-Speed Rail Bid

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