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China is examining technology related to magnetically levitated trains for use in a proposed high-speed train system that would link Beijing with Shanghai, a Transport Ministry official said Wednesday.

Katsuji Doi, vice transport minister for international affairs, said that a senior Chinese official spoke with Transport Minister Jiro Kawasaki in China earlier this week, saying that both maglev technology and existing railway systems are being considered for the project.

Although Central Japan Railway Co. and the Railway Technical Research Institute are conducting maglev tests, Japan does not consider it a viable option for the Chinese because it is still in the experimental stage, Doi said.

Speaking with Chinese Railways Minister Fu Zhihuan on Tuesday, Kawasaki officially said Japan plans to bid for China’s 1,300-km railway project, joining Germany and France, who are also interested in the large-scale project. Germany is also developing a maglev train system.

Once the Chinese government gives its official approval, international bidding for the project may take place as early as 2001, Doi said.

China reportedly aims to run express trains that can reach a top speed of 350 kph between Beijing and Shanghai. Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi assured Chinese President Jiang Zemin last November during a visit to Japan that Japan is willing to help China build the railway.

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