III. Playing a Basic, Pioneering and Serving Role
To complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects, the Chinese government gives priority to transport, which plays a basic, pioneering and serving role in promoting economic and social development, in serving the people and improving their living standards, and in enhancing ecological progress.
- Promoting Economic and Social Development
Supporting economic growth. Investment in transport infrastructure is the engine of stable economic growth. During the 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015), a total of RMB12.5 trillion was invested in China’s transport infrastructure. The improvement in the transport network and relevant services has increased the efficiency of economic operation, reduced logistics cost, boosted the development of relevant industries such as automobiles, shipping, metallurgy, logistics, e-commerce, tourism and real estate, and created many jobs. In 2015, China’s total online purchasing transactions, supported by the postal industry, surpassed RMB3 trillion.
Ensuring cargo transport. China’s convenient and efficient logistics network has ensured the smooth and efficient transition between different means of transport, enhanced the efficiency of the logistics system, and guaranteed the transport of coal, crude oil, iron ore, grain, and other key items of cargo. In 2015, some 670 million tons of coal were shipped at Chinese ports, which also unloaded 320 million tons of crude oil and 1 billion tons of iron ore. Express lines were made available for fresh farm produce, effectively meeting the needs of the people.
Facilitating the coordinated development between regions and between urban and rural areas. The Chinese government gives priority to the development of transport and enables the transport industry to play a pioneering role in supporting the regional development of eastern, central, western and northeastern China and the Three Initiatives, in an effort to connect China’s developed, moderately developed and underdeveloped areas. China is building economic belts and urban agglomerations along the railway lines from Beijing to Shanghai and Guangzhou, along the coastline and the Yangtze River, near the ports in the Yangtze River and Pearl River deltas and along the Bohai Sea Rim, striving to make these areas the most economically viable and populous in the country. The growth of intercity highway transport and the development of intercity rails have facilitated the integrated development of urban agglomerations, and the integration of urban and rural transport is bringing the urban and rural areas closer economically.
- Serving the People and Improving Their Living Standards
Providing transport services to the people and making their travel safe and convenient. China is striving to build a sound system to improve transport safety, upgrade the transport structure and improve transport services, in an effort to provide better services to people. The transport capacity and service during the Spring Festival (i.e., Chinese New Year) and other travel peaks have been significantly enhanced. In cities, the percentage of people taking public transit is on the rise, and comfort level of such transport means has been greatly enhanced. With the rapid growth of the “Internet + transport,” passengers can now check the real-time status of traffic, plan their trips ahead of time, purchase tickets online, and enjoy “smart” parking and other one-stop services. The transport service and complaints hotline 12328 has been put into use.
Supporting the poverty reduction and eradication effort. Entering the 21st century, China has initiated a dozen projects to connect townships, towns and administrative villages to the road grid, and built transport infrastructure in contiguous impoverished areas, with increased support for transport development in rural and impoverished areas. During the 12th Five-Year Plan period, over RMB550 billion of vehicle purchase tax was allocated to support transport development in poor areas. In contiguous impoverished areas, 83.8 percent of county seats now have roads of Grade II or above, and 86.2 percent of administrative villages have tarmac and cement roads. More buses now operate on routes linking poverty-stricken areas, and ropeways are being replaced by bridges.
Effectively addressing emergencies. The transport emergency response system plays a key role in the rescue and relief work following natural disasters, accidents and similar contingencies. In the wake of the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008, Yushu earthquake in 2010 and the devastating snowstorms in southern China in 2008, emergency transport response teams were among the first to arrive at the scene and open up “lifelines” for relief. China’s marine search and rescue teams have been engaged in rescue work connected with many emergencies at sea, and actively took part in the search for the Malaysian Airline flight MH370. In the period 2010-2015, China organized and coordinated 12,411 marine search and rescue missions, saving 108,464 lives, including 8,070 foreigners.
- Enhancing Ecological Progress
Promoting energy-saving and emission-reduction. China has been vigorously promoting the green development of transport. Compared to the 2010 levels, in 2015, the comprehensive energy consumption per unit railway transport dropped by six percent, the energy consumption per unit transport turnover of operating vehicles and ships went down by 6.5 percent and 10.5 percent respectively, and the ton/km fuel consumption of civil aviation decreased by almost five percent. The strategy of “public transit priority” has been implemented, supported by growing new- and clean-energy means of transport and a rapidly developing public bicycle rental system. In the Pearl River and Yangtze River deltas, and Bohai Sea Rim (Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei) area, restriction zones have been set up to curb emissions from ships. Along the arteries of the Yangtze River and the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, and in some coastal regions, pilot and demonstration projects of LNG use have been launched for water-borne transport, oil vapor recovery units installed at some ports and shore power provided to ships.
Protecting the ecological environment. China is promoting ecological conservation in the planning, designing, construction, and operation of transport projects, and has built a number of railways, highways, ports and sea routes for demonstration purposes. It is also experimenting with ecological restoration technologies in transport infrastructure in deserts, alpine regions, and reclamation areas. During the 12th Five-Year Plan period, China restored the ecology along 1,300 km of transport lines, with a total area of 50 million sq m. The recycling rate of road-surface materials reached 40 percent. Measures have been adopted to control dust pollution at coal and other minerals transport ports, and equipment storages and installation venues have been set up in coastal areas and along the Yangtze River in case of oil spills. Instead of tracks laid on the ground, many of China’s high-speed trains run on elevated rails to spare farmlands and keep the towns along the routes intact.