Books

09.17.19

Railroads and the Transformation of China

Elisabeth Köll
Harvard University Press: As a vehicle to convey both the history of modern China and the complex forces still driving the nation’s economic success, rail has no equal. Railroads and the Transformation of China is the first comprehensive history, in any language, of railroad operation from the last decades of the Qing Empire to the present.China’s first fractured lines were built under semicolonial conditions by competing foreign investors. The national system that began taking shape in the 1910s suffered all the ills of the country at large: warlordism and Japanese invasion, Chinese partisan sabotage, the Great Leap Forward when lines suffered in the “battle for steel,” and the Cultural Revolution, during which Red Guards were granted free passage to “make revolution” across the country, nearly collapsing the system. Elisabeth Köll’s expansive study shows how railroads survived the rupture of the 1949 Communist revolution and became an enduring model of Chinese infrastructure expansion.The railroads persisted because they were exemplary bureaucratic institutions. Through detailed archival research and interviews, Köll builds case studies illuminating the strength of rail administration. Pragmatic management, combining central authority and local autonomy, sustained rail organizations amid shifting political and economic priorities. As Köll shows, rail provided a blueprint for the past 40 years of ambitious, semipublic business development and remains an essential component of the People’s Republic of China’s politically charged, technocratic economic model for China’s future.{chop}

Caixin Media

01.19.16

Why China Doesn’t Publish Fatal Train Crash Data

Disputes between the two agencies running the trains in China over how to classify and publish details on fatal railroad incidents has kept reports on some fatal accidents last year from surfacing, people close to the matter say. Several employees...

China Flexes Its High-speed Rail Muscles by Rolling out 32 New Routes in One Day

Lily Kuo
Quartz
China has lofty expectations of becoming a global leader in high-speed rail technology, with projects in over a dozen countries, as well as plans to more than double its own domestic network of high-speed rail, which is already the world’s largest.

China May Build an Undersea Train to America

Ishaan Tharoor
Washington Post
Chinese officials are considering a route that would start in the country's northeast, thread through eastern Siberia and cross the Bering Strait via a 125-mile long underwater tunnel into Alaska...

Bribery Charges in China for Official Whose Child Worked for JPMorgan

Neil Gough
Deal Book
 State prosecutors have accused former Minister of Railways Zhang Shuguang of accepting graft payments of around 47 million renminbi, or nearly $8 million at current exchange rates, according to reports.