Handbook on Transport and Urban Transformation in China
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Handbook on Transport and Urban Transformation in China

Edited by Chia-Lin Chen, Haixiao Pan, Qing Shen and James J. Wang

Since 1978, when China embarked on a new period of economic reforms and introduced open door policies, it has experienced a great urban transformation. The role of transport has proved indispensable in this unprecedented rapid urbanisation and economic growth. As the first research-focused book dedicated to this important topic, the Handbook on Transport and Urban Transformation in China offers new insight into the various opportunities and challenges brought by fast-paced motorization and urban development, and explores them in broad spatial-economic, environmental, social, and institutional dimensions.
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Chapter 15: Mobility and the Chinese dream

Austin Rhys Williams

Abstract

China’s transport infrastructure is a classic example of the country’s rapid growth and consequent social transformation. Its railway expansion alone has been unprecedented, home to the second biggest rail network in the world and by far the biggest high-speed rail network (with 3,500 km opening in 2018 alone, equivalent to 15 times the entire US HSR network). This has provided opportunities for mobility and social mobility as 3 billion passenger trips are taken for pleasure and business every year. The same is true of the exponential rise in the number of cars, public transport and airlines. But alongside such infrastructural investments in the mechanisms for mobility exist socially restrictive policies that often curtail mobility. The fascinating dilemma for China is how does the political need to police travel in order to – as it sees it – maintain a sense of control and the maintenance of stability rub up against the personal desire and social ambition unleashed in these material opportunities for change.

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