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Understanding China’s New Diplomacy

Silk Roads and Bullet Trains

Gerald Chan

What is China’s high-speed rail diplomacy? What is China’s infrastructure diplomacy? How do they relate to each other and to the country’s Belt and Road Initiative? Can China finance the numerous projects around the world under the initiative? This book assesses the important implications of China’s new diplomacy for the global political economy. It argues that a new developmental path called ‘geo-developmentalism’ is in the making: China plays a leading role in promoting growth and building connections across Eurasia and beyond.
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Chapter 4: Explaining China’s high-speed rail ‘miracle’

Silk Roads and Bullet Trains

Gerald Chan

Extract

Chapter 4 asks why and how has China risen to become such a competitive industrial power in high-speed rail construction, all within about a decade or so, despite the fact that the country is a real latecomer to the industry. The country’s high-speed rail network now takes up over 65% of the total global mileage. How did China turn itself around from a position of knowing very little about high-speed rail systems to leading the world in the field? What explains this great technological leap forward? To what extent can other countries learn from China’s experience, especially those which want to develop their own high-speed rail system? This chapter puts forward ten reasons to explain China’s rise. It argues that answers to the questions will have a huge impact not only on technology transfer, but also on the generation of global wealth and its distribution.

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