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Boosting transportation fosters regional, international connectivity

Author  :  Zhang Qiusheng and Lin Xiaoyan     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2017-12-19

The 19th CPC National Congress report explicitly emphasizes the importance of building China’s strength in transportation, which is one of the major means of accelerating China’s transition into a country of innovators. Transportation is a type of public service that plays a fundamental and guiding role in economic and social development. It performs multiple functions in the realms of politics, economy, culture and communication. In the past five years since the 18th CPC National Congress, the construction of high-speed railways, highways, bridges, ports, airports and other types of infrastructure has picked up pace, laying a substantial foundation for socialist development with Chinese characteristics in all sectors in the new era.

Having undergone stages of “bottleneck constraint,” “basically tension-eased,” and “generally adaptive” to the demand of economic and social development since the reform and opening up, the transportation industry has made remarkable achievements that have captured the world’s attention. As the white book Development of China’s Transportation issued by the State Council Information Office of China on Dec. 29, 2016 points out, transportation in China has staged into a new phase of building a modern comprehensive system for the industry. Transportation products and services, typically represented by high-speed railways, have become an important means of connecting China with other countries and regions while it also promotes global economic and social development at large.

The 19th CPC National Congress report states that now that socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era, the principal contradiction facing Chinese society has changed. It now faces the contradiction between unbalanced, inadequate development and the people’s ever-growing demand for a better life. The new social contradiction also creates a higher demand for transportation development. To enhance the development quality and effectiveness of transportation, the following points are noteworthy.

First of all, the spatial transportation networks need to be optimized. Currently, there is a large gap between the eastern regions and western regions in terms of the size of their respective transportation networks while there is also an imbalance between the demand and supply of people traveling or commodity flow. Therefore, based on the geographical and economic conditions, a scientific space planning and development strategy should be drafted to form a high-quality, multilevel transportation networks that are comprehensive and interconnected to address problems of imbalance and inadequacy.

Second, technological innovation in transportation must be promoted. Though some technological innovations have been made in the sector, it is necessary to vigorously foster “smart transportation” to adapt to ways that people’s daily transportation is affected by artificial intelligence, internet of things, and emerging transportation technologies.

Third, it is necessary to enhance the governing system of the transportation industry, which now faces a series of challenges in terms of its traditional system. For example, with the rapid development of automated driving technology, its application and practical use should be further standardized in line with the laws and regulations. In addition, engineering construction, management and operation in the sector of transportation require support from social capital, and the investment and financing system of railways should be further reformed.

Fourth, green transportation must be advocated as one of the measures to facilitate the creation of a green, low-carbon and circular economy, including reducing the volume of emissions from transportation pollutants and lowering the emission rate of transportation tools.

Last, we must step up the pace of “going global.” Through the export of labor service, engineering, capital, technology, standard and management mode, the active participation in the affairs of international transportation organization, and the strengthening of international connectivity, the Chinese transportation industry is improving its discourse power and influence in the international arena. In the context of the “Belt and Road” initiative, cutting-edge industries or emerging sectors that are internationally competitive should be cultivated. In addition, cooperation with other countries in transportation should be reinforced to create a favorable international environment.


Zhang Qiusheng and Lin Xiaoyan are professors from the School of Economics and Management at Beijing Jiaotong University.

Editor: Yu Hui

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