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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Sunday, January 21, 2018

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Chinese plans to build cross-Amazon railway move closer to reality

East-west railway across South America

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BEIJING, China - A Chinese-led project to build an east-west railway across South America, cutting across parts of the Amazon rain forest, between Peru and Brazil moved a step closer to reality after Peru agreed to study the proposal.

The plan would link Peru's Pacific coast with Brazil's Atlantic shores and was the topic of discussion Saturday in talks between the Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, and Peruvian President Ollanta Humala.

The 5,300km (3,300 miles) railway plan will likely be heavily protested if construction begins as campaigners fear the impact of the project on indigenous people.

Brazil, China and Peru have agreed to begin feasibility studies into the railway, however after Li secured Brazil's consent earlier this week, as part of his tour of Latin America.

Li sought to allay concerns, saying "to create the infrastructure, it is necessary to protect the environment" in a declaration with Humala, the AFP reports.

The railway would "consolidate Peru's geopolitical position as a natural gateway to South America", President Humala said in a statement backing the plan.

For China, it would reduce the cost of shipping raw materials and farm products, but campaigners are concerned it might destroy untouched parts of the Amazon rainforest, affecting hundreds of indigenous communities.

It is likely to cost more than US $10 billion, and although the route is still being examined, it would begin in the gigantic Brazilian port of Acu and end at a Peruvian port.

Chinese President, Xi Jinping pledged earlier this year to invest US $250 billion in Latin America over the next decade.> BNN

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