China plans to improve national road network with reasonable ‘advanced development’: officials

An aerial photo taken on July 24, 2022 shows a winding mountain road in Nanjing, east China’s Jiangsu Province. Photo: CGV

China plans to improve its road network by building and improving the national road network, officials and experts told a news conference on Monday, as the country steps up efforts to upgrade infrastructure and boost the economy. affected by COVID-19.

Although China lags behind some developed countries in terms of road penetration or length per capita, China’s speed and efficiency in advancing infrastructure projects has surpassed countries like the United States. , although competition in new infrastructure is fierce, experts said.

Wang Songbo, an official with China’s Ministry of Transportation (MOT), on Monday announced specific targets China is seeking to achieve to improve its road network. For example, China aims for residents of all counties and cities to be within 15 minutes of reaching a national highway by 2035, Wang noted.

China is also striving to build a national expressway system connecting all counties/cities of the country’s border ports, while the national highway system is expected to be connected with Asian highway networks, Wang said.

Shi Liangqing, deputy director of MOT’s Transportation Research and Planning Institute, said at the press conference that China’s road network is expected to maintain reasonably advanced development.

Chen Jia, a researcher at the International Monetary Institute of Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Monday that advanced development should mean carrying out some planned infrastructure projects ahead of schedule and with an investment plan. larger than expected.

It’s not just about improving some “gaps” in infrastructure construction, but it’s a strategic consideration to stabilize the economy at a time of growing challenges, Chen said.

Experts have warned that it is important to ensure that China’s infrastructure plans, whatever their timing and structure, are scientifically developed. Poorly designed infrastructure projects will actually lead to bottlenecks and negatively impact the economy, although they may support short-term GDP growth.

“A science infrastructure plan takes into account factors in advance, such as the expected evolution of the industrial structure, regional development and population of the region, as well as the economic profitability of the infrastructure”, said Cong Yi, professor of economics at Tianjin University of Finance and Economics, told the Global Times on Monday.

Take the freeways, for example. Cong said planners should keep in mind that China’s regional development is very uneven and different regions have different needs. Specifically, eastern China needs more high-speed rail transport, while these needs are not urgent in western China, where many regions still lack a comprehensive expressway network. .

“It is important for policy makers to design local infrastructure plans based on a region’s development standard, as well as to understand where the local infrastructure weaknesses really lie,” he said.

Wang noted that China will consider the varied characteristics of different regions in infrastructure needs. Officials will focus on strengthening major expressways and improving the efficiency of the road network in eastern and central China, as well as expanding the scope of road coverage in the regions. from the west, Wang said.

Comparing highway construction in China and the United States, experts said China still lags behind in terms of length per capita, but has far surpassed the United States in terms of speed and building efficiency.

According to Shi, at the end of 2021, every 10,000 people in China owned an average of 37.4 kilometers of highways, about 18% of US levels. In terms of penetration, China’s expressway network covered almost all cities with populations over 200,000, while US national highways connected cities with populations over 50,000.

When it comes to building highways and bridges in recent years, the United States has lagged behind China, whether in planning, construction volume or construction quality, analysts said. .

An example of America’s inefficiency in road building is the historic California high-speed railroad, which symbolized America’s ambition to “build and think big” when it was launched. It has gradually morphed into an “alarming vision of a nation that seems incapable of carrying out the transformational projects needed to meet the challenges of the 21st century,” according to a New York Times report. The project remains in limbo.

One reason for this is that the U.S. job market is “distorted,” Chen said, as the U.S. increasingly lacks skilled blue-collar workers.

“Additionally, US budget constraints mean it can hardly deliver on Biden’s Build Back Better initiative, the costs of which rise with inflation,” he said.

China has institutional advantages over the United States in promoting infrastructure projects because much of China’s land is state-owned and the government has stronger decision-making power over infrastructure improvements, noted Cong.

Experts noted that in terms of new energy, 6G or artificial intelligence, China and the United States are now in fierce competition, and there is no clear sign that either other wins the race.

Comments are closed.