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Leaders pledge on closer Sino-German relations
(January 01,2003 )(China Daily)
Premier Zhu Rongji and German Chancellor Gerald Schroeder rode into the history books Tuesday -- by train. But this was rolling stock with a difference, the state-of-the-art Shanghai Maglev -- magnetic levitating --train (SMT) making its inaugural run.
After taking their short journey the two heads of state promised even closer Sino-German ties in the years ahead.
"The co-operation between the two governments, just like the speed of the SMT we have just tried, is running on the fast track,'' Zhu said.
The SMT project , cost about 10 billion yuan (US$1.21 billion) and is the world's first commercially built line.
It can cover the 33-kilometre-long trip from Longyang Station on the Metro Line 2 to Pudong International Airport in less than eight minutes.
"I brought three generations of my family here to take the train without buying insurance in advance,'' Zhu remarked. Adding: "The train can never derail because it doesn't run on wheels but instead hugs the track.''
Zhu praised the project, which has taken 22 months to construct, describing it as something of a technological miracle, a milestone in the development of Shanghai and a milestone in China's history of rail transport.
Zhu urged those German and Chinese experts employed on the project to perfect maglev technology and enhance its economic benefits and by so doing help pave the way for China to construct a fast mass transport.
Zhu said the technology will play an important role in facilitating the development of Shanghai and also help drive economic growth across the country in general.
Schroeder joked that the heads of Siemens AG and ThyssenKrupp who are responsible for the technology and de-bugging the SMT system, must have breathed a long sigh of relief after the test went so smoothly.
"I feel heart-felt happiness on this memorable day for this world unique project, which marks the close economic and scientific co-operation between Germany and China,'' said Schroeder.
Adding: "When I was talking about the project in November 1999, I could hardly have expected that it would have been completed with such speed and quality.''
He said both German enterprise and he himself are looking forward to further co-operation with China and Chinese partners.
Wu Xiangming, who was in charge of the project, said all involved will continue to work hard to perfect the system in time for final tests at the end of 2003 before it becomes fully operational.
But the public will be able to have a foretaste of this space age transport system at weekends and during holidays leading up to next year's Spring Festival, said Wu. The cost of a round trip will be 150-300 yuan (US$18.2-36.3).
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