Edited by Chia-Lin Chen, Haixiao Pan, Qing Shen and James J. Wang
Chapter 15: Mobility and the Chinese dream
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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