It is really fascinating that there has been so much bad news in China now.
Take transportation for example, on July 12 there was an SCMP report Chinese airports the worst when it comes to delays. The next day, there was another SCMP report “Chinese airlines to face tough penalties for delays.”
One of the reports says, “Last month, only 18.3 per cent of the 22,019 flights departing from the Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) were on time, FlightStats says in its latest report. It says 42 per cent of them saw delays of 45 minutes or more.”
The problem is quite an old one, SCMP says in its report Angry Travellers Protest Airline Delays in China on December 12 last year: “Since 2010, the number of passengers flying commercially in China has increased 10%, and the International Air Transport Association predicts that 379 million people will take to the country’s skies by 2014. To deal with the upswing in travelers, manufacturers project that airlines will launch one new plane into China’s skies every other day for the next 20 years.”
The demand was, is and will be huge, but according to the first report, “Mainland experts attribute the problem to excessive military control of the airspace and poor urban planning.”
There has been even graver bad news that Chinese local governments have borrowed excessively and may cause Chinese economy to collapse.
A major part of the money borrowed is for China’s ambitious project to build a nationwide high-speed rail.
There was a serious accident near Wenzhou in 2011 that caused suspension of quite a lot of parts of the project, but construction soon resumed.
Then there was the bad news that the newly built high-speed rail lacked passengers, as their fares are too high to compete with airlines.
All such news is so bad that no wonder a China expert wrote a recent article in Time World magazine, reproduced on China Daily Mail as China’s only good news is bad news from elsewhere.
However, we should not fail to see that there is good news in such bad news:
- There is growing demand for transport facilities so that local government’s investment in high-speed rail can be recovered.
- The Chinese government will not loosen control on airspace to help airliners and airports. On the contrary, it will impose harsh punishment to restrict growth of air transportation.
What will be the consequence?
More passengers will choose high-speed rail to help central and local governments recover their investment so that the problems of local governments’ financial problems will to quite a great extent be resolved.
A comparison between air and high-rail travels is quite convincing.
Travel from Beijing to Guangzhou on high-speed rail takes 8 hours and costs 865 yuan while the same travel by air takes 3.25 hours and costs at least 1,350 yuan including tax. It seems a flight is better.
However, if there is a delay of four hours or longer, rail travel is much more comfortable and substantially cheaper.
By restricting airspace and imposing harsh punishment, air fares will keep on rising while there will be a constant rise in fuel prices.
High-speed rail fares will decrease substantially when the investment has been recovered, as the operation costs are much lower compared with airlines.
It is much more comfortable and environment friendly.
Therefore, such news is in fact good news for China, in that it foretells China’s success in resolving local governments’ financial problems, and building up its nationwide high-speed rail network.
In the short-term, the project helps the steel, building materials and other industries that have been in difficulty due to falling demand.
In the long-run, the network is wholly owned by the government. It will be a cash cow for the government for a long time after the investment has been recovered. If the government needs a lot of funds, it can turn parts of the network into listed companies, and make a lot of money by issuing shares to the public.
The project shows Chinese leaders wisdom, vision and ability and courage to fight against vested interests.
There are also quite a few other things that indicate their vision and wisdom but some China experts, like Professor Wallesrom, who wrote the aforementioned article in Time magazine, are just unable to see them.
No wonder, he would say, “This organisation’s ability to stay alive and kicking more than two decades after the Berlin Wall’s collapse – and then the implosion of the Soviet Union, which allegedly signalled the start of a global postcommunist era – has long been a source of intense speculation and fascination.”
Intense speculation? Being ignorant of the cause why China has prospered, he can only rely on speculation.
Is China living on “borrowed time”? Can you borrow 30 years of time of prosperity?
China is lucky that it has had those talented leaders with moral integrity for over 30 years. China’s problem is that its political system cannot guarantee that there will be such leaders in the future.
The above-mentioned article mentioned much trouble in the world. Even in areas without such trouble such as the United States and EU, do their leaders have the vision, wisdom and courage and ability to fight against vested interests to carry out any project as ambitious as China’s that will benefit their countries for a long time?Sources: SCMP “Beijing Capital sinks further in past six months, with just 18pc of flights now departing on time”, “Chinese airlines to face tough penalties for delays” and “Angry Travelers Protest Airline Delays in China”
- China airports, airlines, lead in flight delays (foxnews.com)
- Airlines to be given harsher penalties for delays, cancellations (wantchinatimes.com)
- Chinese business about to fly farther (vancouversun.com)
- Air China Connects Houston and Beijing with New Nonstop Service (prnewswire.com)
- China ‘suffers worst flight delays’ (bbc.co.uk)
- China’s airports, airlines worst in flight delays (omaha.com)
- China’s Ex-Rail Chief Given Suspended Death Sentence (bloomberg.com)
- China’s Airports, Airlines Worst in Flight Delays (abcnews.go.com)
- Economic slowdown stalls expansion of China’s hi-speed rail (wantchinatimes.com)