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Yunnan-Vietnam Railway

Among the 18 oddities about Yunnan, there is one oddity which goes that "trains run to other countries but not in the country". Well, this is obviously no longer true, but the railway that gave rise to this oddity is still in existence. That is the railway we can see now, it's called Yunnan-Vietnam Railway or Sino-Vienamese Railway.  On the way to Stone Forest, you can see two railways lying beside the express road, the one relatively narrower is the one we are talking about. Since the part in Vietnam was constructed first with the width of one meter, the part in Yunnan used the same standard in order to connect them perfectly. Therefore, it got the name meter-gage railway, which means it is one meter in width. Speaking of this railway, we have to mention the history behind it.


Historical Background of the Railway

In the early 20th century, France succeeded colonizing Vietnam and switched their target to China. The corrupted and incompetent Qing Court signed an agreement with France that if China consider building railways, France should take charge." As a result, the very first international railway in China, namely, this Sino-Vietnamese Railway was in the charge of France.

Why were French people so obesessed with the construction of the railway? 

  • To begin with, Yunnan was rich in mineral resources. The railway can make it easier for them loot transport to its colony vietnam. In order to maximize their interest, they even deliberately made detours through the mineral-rich areas.
  • Yunnan is the back door of China, which, at that time, the most attractive source of raw materials and market for their commodities.
  • The third reason is that Yunnan is close neighbor to rich Sichuan Province.
  • The last reason is because of the mild climate here. They were hoping to turn it into a backyard garden for its people.

The Importance of the Sino-Vietnam Railway

Despite the fact that this railway was constructed against our will, we have to admit that we did benefit from it in certain way. 

Since Yunnan is a mountainous province, transportation was really inconvenient, which was accomplished mostly by human and animals. Thanks to this railway, Yunnan was greatly opened and even became the window to the southwest.

In 1910, the very first hydropower station Shi Long Ba Hydropower station was built in Kunming, the engine of which was transported here by this railway.

The national protection movement also benefited from it.

During the anti-Japanese war, the railway brought a large number of intellectuals to Yunnan. With the establishment of the Southwest Associated Univeristy, Yunnan was turned into one of the most influencial culture centers in China.

Nowadays, oriental planes /platan everywhere was introduced by French people at that time.

Someone conducted a comparison between the pace of life of Kunming people to that of the Shanghai people,  and they found that Kunming people was generally one hour and a half slower.