Sino-Japanese rivalry heating up

TOKYO - The Japanese and Philippine governments signed a loan agreement worth up to 242 billion yen (S$2.7 billion) for a railway development project on Nov. 27 in Manila. This is Japan's biggest single outlay of official development assistance.

The loan provides roughly 80 per cent of the costs for the construction of a 38km railway with 10 stations between Tutuban Station in Manila and Malolos, the capital city of Bulacan province. The contract includes Japan providing of the technology for development of the project.

China had been the prime candidate lender for the project, before a number of hurdles lead to negotiations breaking down, according to a source. Manila's decision is further evidence of the race for large infrastructure exports between Japan and China becoming more and more intense.

Malolos, to the north of Manila, is home to about 240,000 people. Many currently spend about an hour and a half commuting to Manila daily by car, but the new railway will reduce the time to just 35 minutes. The Philippine government estimates the new service will carry about 430,000 passengers a day by 2025.

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