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Japan and China are racing to build a new type of ultrafast, levitating train, seeking to demonstrate their mastery over a technology with big export potential.

Magnetic levitation, or maglev, trains use powerful magnets to glide along charged tracks at superfast speeds made possible by the lack of friction. A handful of short distance and experimental maglev trains are already in operation, but Asia’s two biggest economies are vying to develop what would be the world’s first long-distance intercity lines.

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