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China’s transportation grew by leaps and bounds over past four decades

Author  :  Lu Hang     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2018-07-19

The second unit of China’s homegrown large passenger plane, the C919, takes off from Pudong International Airport in Shanghai, East China, Dec. 17, 2017. (XINHUA)

XI’AN—Over the past four decades of reform and opening up, the rapid growth of China’s transportation has contributed to economic and social development, and greatly improved the people’s mode of production and lifestyle. Today, China has a dense network of expressways and high-speed railways crisscrossing the country, as well as busy air and sea routes reaching every corner of the world.

“When traveling back home during the summer and winter vacations in college, I had to take a six-and-a-half-hour bus ride from Xi’an to Ganquan County. After arriving at the county, I would have to take a motorcycle and walk for several miles if I failed to catch the shuttle bus to my hometown,” said Xi’an citizen Yan Runhua who planned to drive his family back to visit relatives in northern Shaanxi on July 9.

Yan said that since the opening of the Baomao Expressway, he has preferred driving back home, which is more convenient and saves time.

Yan’s story reflects the tremendous growth of China’s transportation infrastructure. Today, China’s highway network is extending further, with the original 7918 national expressway network basically completed, which is composed of a grid of seven radial expressways from Beijing, nine north-south expressways, and 18 east-west expressways. The national and provincial trunk highways are connected to administrative districts at the county level or higher. The rural roads have reached nearly all established villages, and the formerly tight traffic capacity has been greatly enhanced.

Over the past 40 years, the constant influx of state investment in major infrastructure projects has driven the large-scale construction of China’s railway network. From the north to south, from the west to east, the railway is expanding out to every corner of the country.

The world’s fastest test line for vacuum high-temperature superconducting magnetic levitation model trains is being built in Chengdu, and it is expected to be completed and put into trial before the end of the year, said Zhang Weihua, a professor at the Southwest Jiaotong University at the 2018 World Transport Convention on June 19. In theory, China’s super high-speed rail will be able to reach a speed of 1,500 kilometers per hour by 2021.

On May 5, 2017, China’s C919, a next-generation large airliner with completely independent intellectual property rights, took off and landed smoothly after a perfect flight of 1 hour and 20 minutes. This was an epoch-making moment in the history of China’s civil aviation, marking a breakthrough in domestic large aircraft technology.

China has formed a civil aviation network with Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and other international hub airports at the core. Provincial capital cities and key regional urban hubs form the backbone while other trunk and regional airports play a supporting role.

Since the reform and opening up, China’s ports have been increasing in size, specialization and intelligent operation.The country ranks among the world’s leaders in port construction. In recent years, the fully automated Xiamen Yuanhai Container Terminal, Shanghai Yangshan Deep-Water Port’s Phase IV container terminal and Qingdao New Qianwan Container Terminal have been built.

China’s coastal areas have seen five modern port clusters formed around the Bohai Sea, the Yangtze River Delta, the southeast coast, the Pearl River Delta and the southwest coast. A comprehensive transportation system has basically been constructed including container, coal, oil, iron ore, grain, commodity vehicles, roll-on/roll-off cargo and passenger transportation.

Along with the development of the ports, the construction of China’s inland waterway infrastructure has blossomed, and the navigation conditions of the channels have been continuously improved. The inland waterway has a navigation mileage of 127,100 kilometers, with 13,600 kilometers of high-grade waterway.

Wang Hainian, deputy director of the School of Highway at Chang’an University, said China’s transportation industry in the new era is shifting its focus from engineering construction to management service, from scale and speed to quality and benefit, and people’s demand for transportation is changing from “having or not” to “good or not.”

From Fuxing bullet trains to Yangshan Port to C919, China continues to write new chapters in the field of transportation. Wu Chungeng, deputy director general of the Office of Policy Research at China’s Ministry of Transport, said that in the past 40 years of reform and opening up, the gap between China’s transportation and world-class levels has rapidly narrowed, and it has even surpassed them in some areas. A comprehensive transportation system that is modernizing is being presented to the world.

Editor: Li Yujie

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