Chinese premier takes test ride on Indonesian high-speed railway funded by China

Chinese Premier Li Qiang has taken a test ride on Indonesia's high-speed railway, which China has funded as a key project under its Belt and Road Initiative.

Li is in Indonesia for talks with leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

On Wednesday, the Chinese premier toured the railway's first station under construction, and then rode the made-in-China train to the next station to check on progress.

Indonesia's coordinating minister for maritime and investment, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, accompanied Li on the test ride.

Luhut said he talked with Li about the possibility of extending the track to the second largest city of Surabaya.

The project connects the nation's capital Jakarta and Bandung, the capital of West Java province, a distance of about 140 kilometers. China won the bid in 2015 after a fierce competition with Japan.

A joint venture official says the project is more than 90 percent complete. The Indonesian government aims to begin operation in October.

Observers say the project is marked as an important milestone of China's Belt and Road Initiative and Li is apparently trying to tout his country's contribution to regional development.

China had initially proposed a plan that would not put a financial burden on Indonesia. But the construction cost has since ballooned to nearly 7.3 billion dollars.