A symbol of economic power
China aims to make high-speed rail the mode of choice for domestic long-distance travel, but these new railways have a much greater significance. Much like Japan’s Shinkansen in the 1960s, they symbolize its economic power, rapid modernization, growing technological prowess, and increasing prosperity. For China’s rulingand its leader, Xi Jinping, high-speed rail is also a powerful tool for social cohesion, political influence, and integrating disparate regions with distinct cultures into the mainstream.
“Building these new railways forms part of Xi Jinping’s grandDr. Olivia Cheung, a of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). “It is also meant to reflect his ‘new development philosophy,’ of which ‘coordinated development’ is crucial.
“His scheme is grand in that it extends beyond simply connecting existing towns, but existing towns with new mega-towns constructed from scratch. Xi takes great pride in a famous example, the Xiong’an New Area in Hebei province, around 60 miles southwest of Beijing.” In that sense, it could be argued that China is repeating railway history; many, Europe, and the colonies of the European empires were built with similar goals.
The development of railway networks in Russia — most notably the Trans-Siberian Railway — Prussia, France, Italy, and the British Empire, among others, were strongly influenced by political and military demands and. However, what is being achieved by China in just a few years. With 37,900 kilometers of lines, largest network of high-speed railways. Wang He/Getty Images AsiaPac/Getty Images