Road to a Great Power in Transportation

Monday, 13 March 2017 03:35 Written by  Text by Zhao Xinhui Read 142 times

Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the nation’s traffic infrastructure has witnessed a great leap forward. Given the need for transport as a foundation and propeller for economic and social development, the Chinese government has attached great importance to the development of transportation. 



Boosting Economic and Social Development

Transport supports China’s fast economic growth. Over decades of construction and development, the quality and turnover of China’s passenger and cargo traffic have greatly improved, thus boosting economic efficiency and hastening economic and social development.

Transport accelerates China’s industrial restructuring and upgrade. The construction of logistics channels enables technology and products to be transported efficiently amongst different regions. In China’s industrial distribution map, industrial clusters were mostly around developed transport arteries. Subsequently, industrial agglomeration may enhance regional advantages and thereby nudge different regions to adjust their respective industrial structures, achieve mutual complementation between their advantageous resources, and distribute their industrial resources more rationally. 

Transport supports China’s implementation of its major strategies. Transport integration has been given top priority in the implementation of the nation’s strategic plans ranging from the ‘Western Development’, ‘Revitalizing Northeastern China‘, and ‘Rise of Central China’ to the ‘Belt and Road Initiative‘, ‘Integrated Development of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei‘, and ‘Yangtze River Economic Belt.’ Based on economic belts, routes, corridors and bridges, those regions can complement each other’s advantages, connect each other’s productive factors, and achieve common development. 

Transport improves social equality, inclusiveness and sharing. Essentially, transport is supposed to serve people. Transport conditions are among key factors that can determine economic and social development of impoverished areas. In recent years, a number of highways, bridges, and ferries have been constructed in rural areas, greatly improving the transport conditions of many poverty-stricken areas and enabling more people to enjoy the benefits of transport development. 


Imbalances and Challenges

Over decades, China’s transport industry accomplished a quantum leap in terms of transport mileage, volume, technology, equipment, and service efficiency and quality. However, there are still challenges and problems to be overcome in the field of transport infrastructure.

China’s transport industry is still affected by an imbalanced internal structure. Presently, each type of transport tends to develop by itself, lacking integration and coordination, especially the bottleneck of the so-called ‘last 100 meters’ of passenger transport and the ‘last kilometer’ of cargo transport. Railway transport has yet to achieve seamless connection with highways and harbors. The different means of transport lack further integration. Moreover, transport infrastructure is imbalanced between different regions in China. 

The development of transport is increasingly constrained by external factors. Apart from growing pressure from factors like energy, land, and environment, transport infrastructure construction is facing greater difficulties, higher costs, and rising shortage of maintenance funds. Against a backdrop of the pressure of an accelerating economic downturn, it would be hard to provide funds for the construction in the near future. 

There are considerable demands for improving transport quality and efficiency. The demands for transport services with high added-value are growing, especially high-end, convenient and comfortable and customized travel services, thus raising the bar for quality and efficiency of transport services. 

New industrial trends are accelerating the transformation of transport industry. New trends such as the development of internet-based transportation are changing traditional transaction modes, organizations and operations of transport services; and, injecting vitality into the transport industry while giving rise to new challenges.


From ‘Straggler’ to ‘Forerunner’

China has formed a comprehensive transport network. Currently, it ranks world’s No.1 in the lengths of expressways and high-speed railways, highway passenger and cargo turnover, harbor handling capacity, waterway freight volume and turnover, railway transportation, and urban rail mileage. The nation also ranks the second globally in the lengths of highways and railways and overall aviation turnover. 

China has become a veritable great power in terms of transportation and plays an increasingly important role in world transport development by undertaking transport projects in several countries. 

Over decades, China’s transport technologies have been spread across the world. Those cooperative projects such as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the Jamaica North-South Expressway, the Colombo Port City in Sri Lanka, and the Jakarta-Bandung High-speed Railway in Indonesia laid a solid foundation for China’s transport industry to go abroad. At present, China has been encouraging its high-speed railway, expressway, and harbor construction enterprises to participate in overseas infrastructure construction projects and international production capacity cooperation.

 Transportation is an important foundation for inter-regional exchange and communication. So far, the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative has created a new framework for international economic cooperation. The majority of countries along the Belt and Road are mostly underdeveloped economically and socially and need to develop their infrastructure on a large scale. China’s advanced and reliable technology and equipment in the field of transport infrastructure construction can meet their demands. The Belt and Road Initiative provides a good opportunity and platform for China’s transport infrastructure enterprises to expand their businesses to other countries and regions in Asia, Central and East Europe, East and North Africa; and, enhance their brand recognition worldwide. These could propel China’s transport industry to new heights on the world stage. 


The author is from China Academy of Transportation Sciences, Chinese Ministry of Transport. 


(This content is provided by Beijing-based China Pictorial.)