Introduction
China, a vast country, has more than 160,000 kilometers of expressways connecting hundreds of millions of people. Bringing people together and helping them achieve their dreams is key to the country's miraculous development.
Join us and take a look at China along its highways starting this April, and experience the country's scenery and stories.
Beautiful tourist highway in Hainan
By Ma Zhiping
The Wanning coastal tourist highway in eastern Hainan connects a dozen beautiful spots, including Shimei Bay, Nanyan Bay and the Shenzhou Peninsula. [Photo by Yang Shizhong/for chinadaily.com.cn]

The Wanning coastal tourist highway in eastern Hainan connects a dozen beautiful spots, including Shimei Bay, Nanyan Bay and the Shenzhou Peninsula. Charming scenery along the 35-kilometer highway attracts thousands of tourists every year to go sailing, diving, fishing or surfing, or to take sightseeing tours on a yacht.

The Wanning coastal tourist highway in eastern Hainan connects a dozen beautiful spots, including Shimei Bay, Nanyan Bay and the Shenzhou Peninsula. [Photo by Yang Shizhong/for chinadaily.com.cn]
Charming scenery along the 35-kilometer highway attracts thousands of tourists every year. [Photo by Yang Shizhong/for chinadaily.com.cn]
Charming scenery along the 35-kilometer highway attracts thousands of tourists every year. [Photo by Yang Shizhong/for chinadaily.com.cn]
Let's hit the road together!

An event themed "Pathways to Progress" kicked off on April 6, exploring China along its many highways from April to June and showing the country's lightning-speed development.

China had the world's largest expressway network, with a total length of 160,000 kilometers by the end of 2020. By 2035, the network will cover all cities and counties with a population above 100,000.

Scan the QR code on this poster and join us as we take a look at China along its highways, and experience the country's scenery and stories.

Expressways drive China into a prosperous future
Rapeseed flowers are in full bloom on both sides of an expressway in Baokang county of Central China's Hubei province, on March 4, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

China has built the world's largest expressway network, with a total length of 160,000 kilometers by the end of 2020. Currently, the network has embraced 98.6 percent of cities and regions whose urban population exceeds 200,000. By 2035, the network will cover all cities and counties with a population exceeding 100,000.

The expressways bridge cities and villages, providing strong support for the country's economic development and poverty alleviation.

The Baoshan-Lushui Expressway, highway and Nujiang River in Southwest China's Yunnan province are seen on March 5, 2021. The total length of the Baoshan-Lushui Expressway is 85.17 kilometers; it officially opened to traffic this year, and promotes the integrated development of western Yunnan province. [Photo/Xinhua]
Sections of a 1.72-kilometer suspension bridge for the Duyun-Anshun Expressway are joined in Guiding, Southwest China's Guizhou province, on Jan 18, 2021. This marks a key step for the 276-km expressway, the largest road project in the mountainous province. The expressway is expected to open in June. [Photo/Xinhua]
A section of a bridge for the Simao-Lancang Expressway in Southwest China's Yunnan province is seen on Jan 20, 2021. The expressway shortens travel time between the two ends of the expressway from 3.5 hours to 1.5 hours. Its operation is expected to boost joint economic development in Puer's downtown and in the triangle-shaped region consisting of Lancang, Menglian and Ximeng counties. In addition, the expressway will link the Kunming-Bangkok Expressway, the Lancang-Mekong "international golden waterway", and Lancang Jingmai Airport, which will promote opening-up of the border areas. [Photo/Xinhua]
Photo taken on Dec 30, 2020 shows a section of the Hainan Ring Expressway in South China's Hainan province. As the expressway from Baoting Li autonomous county to Haitangwan officially opened on Dec 31, every county in Hainan now has expressway access. Currently, expressways on the island total 1,255 kilometers, which is providing a high-speed tourism passage in the province. [Photo/Xinhua]
A bridge over the Shantou-Chaozhou Ring Expressway in South China's Guangdong province creates an intriguing scene, on Dec 28, 2020. The expressway is 82.23 kilometers long and connects Shantou, Chaozhou and Jieyang to further optimize the layout of the expressway network in eastern Guangdong province. It is set to lead the three cities to integrate development, and accelerate the area as it integrates with the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. [Photo/Xinhua]
Cars cruise down a section of expressway from Ankang city to Langao county in Northwest China's Shaanxi province, on Dec 23, 2020. The expressway opened to traffic on Dec 23, which means that every county in Ankang city now has expressway access. [Photo/Xinhua]
Twisting and turning through lush greenery, a section of expressway from Sanjiang Dong autonomous county to Liuzhou city in South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region stands out in an aerial photo, on April 15, 2020. The expressway provides a convenient channel for local agricultural products to be sent from remote mountains to cities. Guangxi has gradually formed a road network with expressways, national-level roads, provincial-level roads and rural roads, which provide strong support for local economic development and poverty alleviation. [Photo/Xinhua]
A section of expressway from Huaiji county to Yunan county in South China's Guangdong province cuts through the landscape on Dec 18, 2020. The 102-kilometer expressway is a cultural and ecological tour route of Zhaoqing city, which will drive regional economic development in northwestern Guangdong. [Photo/Xinhua]
A bridge for the Panzhihua-Dali Expressway pans majestically across the landscape in Southwest China's Sichuan province, on Dec 6, 2020 . At 41 kilometers long, the expressway connects Panzhihua in Sichuan province and Dali in neighboring Yunnan province. It opened to traffic last year, and is an important tourist corridor between Sichuan and Yunnan to promote the interconnection between the two provinces and facilitate economic development along the route. [Photo/Xinhua]
A dramatic aerial photo taken on Nov 12, 2020 shows an expressway (left) and a highway (right) hugging the side of a cliff in North China's Shanxi province. The expressway provides a convenient path to Hongni village, which is deep in the Taihang Mountains. As the expressway opened to traffic, the village started to develop tourism, photovoltaic power generation, and grain processing industries that have effectively broadened the channels for villagers to increase their incomes. By the end of 2018, all people in the village had been lifted out of poverty. [Photo/Xinhua]
Sections of the Jinan-Tai'an Expressway in East China's Shandong province stretch across the landscape, on Oct 27, 2020. The expressway opened to traffic last year and it shortens travel time between the two terminations to 30 minutes. It's also driving economic development along the route. [Photo/Xinhua]
The Nanchuan-Liangjiang New Area Expressway in Southwest China's municipality of Chongqing stretches across thickly forested mountains, on Oct 20, 2020. The 77 kilometers expressway connects Nanchuan, Fuling, Banan and Yubei in Chongqing. [Photo/Xinhua]
A bright spot of color characterizes the Qingshuijiang Bridge of the Jianhe-Rongjiang Expressway in Southwest China's Guizhou province, on Oct 11, 2020. With a height of 184 meters and length of 540 meters, the bridge is an important part of the high-speed project connecting the province's Jianhe and Rongjiang counties. Last year, the Jianhe-Rongjiang Expressway opened to traffic. It spans Sansui, Jianhe and Rongjiang counties in Guizhou province, with a total length of about 118 kilometers. [Photo/Xinhua]
Expressway network spreads across nation
By CAO CHEN in Shanghai
The Huzhou section of the Changchun-Shenzhen Expressway [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Editor's Note: China Daily reporters traveled along some of the country's major expressways recently to observe the tremendous changes that have taken place. China's road network is the most extensive in the world. In this series, we share what we found on the journey.

From zero to 160,000 kilometers, China has built the world's largest expressway network in less than the past four decades.

The network has embraced 99 percent of cities and regions whose urban population exceeds 200,000, Wang Songbo, deputy director of the comprehensive planning department of the Ministry of Transport, said on Tuesday.

He added it will be upgraded by 2035 to cover all cities and counties with a population exceeding 100,000.

"In the meantime, technology has made transportation smarter, with timely monitoring of the status of the expressways and handling of emergencies," Wang said. He added that highway mileage accounts for 3.1 percent of the nation's total road mileage, but carries over half the freight nationwide.

"We have also been exploring digital infrastructure. Based on the Beidou satellite navigation system, big data and cloud computing, a smart road network management platform is under development."

China entered the expressway era when the 15.9-kilometer-long Hujia (Shanghai-Jiading) Expressway, which links downtown Shanghai with Jiading district in its northwest, opened to traffic in October 1988.

Following its success was the opening of the first highway in Liaoning province, between Shenyang and Dalian, which is 348.5 km long.

Zhang Kuihong, deputy chief engineer of the Hujia Expressway project, said he was very excited to see the rapid growth of China's transportation sector, especially in Shanghai.

Recalling the day when the Hujia Expressway opened in 1988, the former engineer, who was in a helicopter introducing the route to a local TV station at the time, said it looked like "a golden ribbon" in the sunshine.

"Products such as chicken, fish and shrimp needed to be transported from suburbs such as Jiading to Shanghai's downtown area by road. However, before the highway, it could take more than two hours to travel the 20 km between the two areas if the traffic was heavy," the 79-year-old said.

That was the major reason the government initially decided to build the highway. However, there were disagreements about the need for the road among officials, as some felt that the very low level of automobile ownership in China at the time did not justify the expense.

However, after conducting thorough research, the government supported the Hujia Expressway pilot project and construction started in 1984.

"Thanks to the highway, the commute time from downtown Shanghai to Jiading was reduced to 30 minutes, and that accelerated the development of the economy and tourism in the city," Zhang said.

Near the highway's entrances and exits, for example, an industrial park was built in the town of Taopu. Nanxiang, an ancient town in Jiading that is famous for its steamed buns, also welcomed more visitors due to the highway.

"Witnessing these achievements brought by the highway, I am so proud," he said.

Pathways to Progress event revs up

An event themed "Pathways to Progress" kicked off on Tuesday, exploring China along its many highways from April to June and showing the country's lightspeed development.

Over the past decades, China has built more than 160,000 kilometers of expressways, connecting hundreds of millions of people.

The total mileage of China's road network stood at about 5.2 million kilometers as of the end of 2020, according to the Ministry of Transport.

Range of projects improve rural lives
By LI LEI in Beijing, SHI RUIPENG,SHI RUIPENG and ZHANG LI in Nanning
Children play at a new settlement in Songlang village, Maonan autonomous county, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. [Photo/Xinhua]

Investment brings major changes

Qin Zhaozhi, 29, a roads inspector from the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, has visited the regional capital, Nanning, only four times.

For decades, there was just one road for people to escape the monotony and isolation of Qin's home in Huanjiang Maonan autonomous county in northern Guangxi, where he was born, raised and educated.

Cars recently became affordable for members of his Maonan ethnic group, but before that, Qin would set out by bus for Nanning before dawn to visit its shops and entertainment venues. Reaching the city entailed a lengthy journey in a darkened vehicle that crept along winding lanes clinging to cliffs. He was lucky to reach his destination before nightfall.

On arrival in Nanning, the travel-weary passengers were greeted by the sounds of a bustling city, flashing neon signs and other aspects of urban life they never experience at home.

"The bus ride was a headache, but it was worth it to reach the city, which mesmerized me," Qin said.

However, it soon will be much quicker for him and others to escape the isolation of home, as a high-speed railway is being built to link Nanning with Guiyang, capital of neighboring Guizhou province, as part of a push to integrate regional development.

Staff members from the village committee in Xiatang, Maonan, help a senior leave the area. [Photo/Xinhua]

Situated midway between the two economic heartlands, Huanjiang is poised to benefit.

The county, which is home to more than 70 percent of China's some 100,000 Maonan people and also to other ethnic groups, used to be entrenched in poverty.

Last year, local authorities announced that the county no longer had any poor residents-a result of the sweeping campaign to eradicate rural poverty.

This achievement marked a milestone in the history of the Maonan people, one of a few dozen ethnic groups with small populations in China that until recently have led slash-and-burn lifestyles.

"A flyover carrying the railway can be seen from my village," Qin said.

Thanks to the anti-poverty campaign, paved roads now reach rural families. Better transportation links, which have reduced costs, have prompted farmers to shift to cash crops such as tangerines, Qin added.

With the pandemic under control in China, heavy machinery resumed operating at more than 200 construction sites in Guangxi alone earlier this month, as workers raced to drill tunnels, build bridges and lay rail tracks.

Regional authorities said they plan to pump 850 million yuan ($131 million) into the rail project in the first quarter of this year. They hope the 500-kilometer bullet train line will be in use by 2023.The total cost of the project is estimated at 13.1 billion yuan.

When the link is completed, it will take less than two hours to travel from Nanning to Guiyang, which will be a boon for local tourism, experts said.

For locals, the railway has become a source of pride.

Tan Chunli, a railway worker from the Maonan ethnic group in Liuzhou, Guangxi, said she takes photos of the fast-growing rail line every time she returns home to Huanjiang.

"I hope the bullet train service will bring more visitors to Huanjiang to admire its breathtaking scenery," she said.

Farmers harvest tomatoes in a greenhouse in Tangwan village in the county. [Photo/Xinhua]

Highway project

Meanwhile, work on a new highway is due to start this month.

The link, which will connect Huanjiang with Libo, Guizhou, a scenic location known for its karst mountains, will be the first highway to pass through Huanjiang, according to the county government.

Huang Bingfeng, the county head and a deputy to the National People's Congress, the country's top legislature, said Huanjiang has tourism resources that rival those in Libo, which welcomes more than 20 million visitors a year due to bridge-building and other infrastructure projects in recent years.

However, only 2 million visitors arrive in Huanjiang annually, he said, adding, "The highway will help divert some tourists to the county."

Guizhou Party secretary Sun Zhigang said at a news conference in Beijing in 2019 that the province had earned the title "the world's museum for bridges" due to numerous construction projects that have resulted in nearly half the world's 100 highest bridges falling within its jurisdiction.

Huang, an ethnic Maonan, said he suggested during the recently concluded annual two sessions that another highway be built linking the county with Rongjiang, Guizhou, which is known for its revolutionary-themed scenic spots, which attract "red tourism". The suggestion was greeted enthusiastically among delegates from the transportation sector.

The infrastructure projects underway are part of a broader effort by local authorities to build a "one-hour economic zone" for the once-impoverished county.

Huang said that when the projects are completed, Huanjiang will be just one hour from major nearby cities by train or car.

"I believe these projects will help usher in a new era for local tourism, agriculture and industry," he said, adding that the county is catching up in fields such as electronic manufacturing and clean energy.

Farmers have resettled in Keai village (above), Daan township, Maonan, after leaving their old location (top) in 2017. [Photo/Xinhua]

National strategy

Huanjiang is among the choices for new transportation projects aimed at bringing vitality to the nation's less-affluent areas.

In 2019, central authorities unveiled a blueprint for vitalizing China through better transportation links from this year to the middle of the century.

One stated goal is to make the country's major cities within three hours travel time of one another before 2035. Another is to create one-hour commuter zones for all cities during this period.

The blueprint also promises favorable policies for railway networks and airports that benefit rural tourism and agricultural production.

Qin, the road quality inspector, is working on a new road linking Huanjiang with nearby Luocheng Mulam autonomous county.

Expected to open by the end of this month, the link will shorten travel time between the two counties and benefit a number of communities dotting the karst mountains in between.

"I now see more farmers going to their fields on electric scooters," Qin said. "The road will make it easier to transport organic farm produce to a larger consumer market."

Tunnel, tech feat, connects 2 provinces
By HAN RONGHUA and ZHUANG QIANGE
An aerial view of the Sunan-Qilian section of the G213 national highway. Builders from First Engineering Co Ltd of China Tiesiju Civil Engineering Group on Tuesday finished connecting the 3,639-meter-long Dongshan Tunnel. [Photo by HAN XINLIANG/FOR CHINA DAILY]

Gansu, Qinghai will benefit from smooth flow of goods, services and manpower

Asia's highest tunnel, located in Northwest China's Qilian Mountains, was fully connected on Tuesday, breaking the transport bottleneck between landlocked Gansu and Qinghai provinces and boosting the flow of goods and services in the region.

The Dongshan Tunnel, part of the Sunan-Qilian section within the G213 national highway, is dubbed a key project of the Belt and Road Initiative.

It is expected to immensely enhance traffic flow between Sunan Yugu autonomous county in Gansu and Qilian county in Qinghai.

The 3,639-meter-long tunnel, built by the First Engineering Co Ltd of China Tiesiju Civil Engineering Group (CTCE) since June 2018, has an elevation of 4,200 meters.

It was built amid harsh geological conditions and very high risks in digging and construction, said Ma Zhikui, project department manager.

The Sunan-Qilian Highway, starting at Baizhuangzi in Sunan and ending at S215 provincial highway in Qinghai, entailed a total investment of 1.4 billion yuan ($215 million).

It will save travelers between Sunan and Qilian more than 400 kilometers on the road and cut travel time by some five hours, said Ma.

The Qilian Mountains, stretching for over 1,000 kilometers to the south of the Hexi Corridor, the main artery on the ancient Silk Road, have an average elevation of 4,500 meters, with high ridges piercing the skies.

Ma said CTCE built the No 5 bid, which is 15.01 km long, of the Sunan-Qilian Highway, covering roadbeds, bridges and culverts. The Dongshan, or East Mountain, tunnel was the most difficult project for the highway. First Engineering's bid entailed an investment of 496 million yuan.

Since first entering the region in March 2018 for preparation, CTCE started digging the tunnel in June 2018, intending to make it a transport artery in China's northwestern region, Ma said.

Sunan, home to the Yugu ethnic group, comes under the administrative purview of Zhangye city, which was once called Ganzhou prefecture. It was one of the biggest international trading hubs on the ancient Silk Road.

Ma said as the average annual temperature covering the tunnel is-10 C, the frozen soil there is half a meter deep on average. The full completion of the project once again showed CTCE's enterprise spirit of endeavoring to overcome difficulties with hard work, and to dare to compete and never rest content.

The Dongshan Tunnel, a landmark project in China's northwest, is the first plateau tunnel for builders of 70-year-old CTCE, said Chen Taiheng, Party secretary of the project department.

Chen said when they first entered the work site, they had no running water, no electricity and no mobile communication for almost four months due to the high elevation, which also brought headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and tinnitus to newcomers.

To ensure the health of builders, he said, CTCE hired a local doctor to conduct regular check-ups, treating them for any adverse reactions in a timely way.

Wang Yongtao, 32, a native of Fugou county in Henan province, conducts checks on building materials and equipment. He said within half a month of joining the project in June 2018, he overcame discomfort such as chest tightness and headaches, and became very satisfied with the work, the more so because of the realization that he is able to contribute to an important project.

Chen said he was pleased all the diligent and dedicated work finally bore fruit in what might appear as a no man's land. Besides 60-odd managerial staff, around 300 workers worked tirelessly to make the project a reality.

In addition to daily necessities, heating equipment and various cold-proof materials were provided by CTCE to the builders on site, creating a warm home for them in the harsh environment, Chen said.

Since the region is home to wildlife like marmots, wolves, wild sheep and hawks, each dormitory was equipped with an attached washroom for employee safety.

Zhao Changping, a 45-year-old native of Yunyang county in Chongqing, said as a CTCE employee, he earns a monthly salary of 12,000 yuan, which helps supports his wife and three kids aged 17, 10 and 8 back home.

Han Xinliang, publicity director of CTCE First Engineering Co Ltd, said due to the low temperature, the project department innovated a method of second heating on concrete tankers entering the tunnel.

When a tanker arrives at the work site, it enters the heating room for further heating to ensure the concrete's temperature is just right for use.

The main entrance and exit of the project, only four meters wide, were narrow and rugged, posing much difficulty in transporting building materials to the perpetually snow-covered mountain.

Pan Jihong, Party secretary of CTCE First Engineering, said his staff members are proud of taking part in building the tunnel. The project has also helped CTCE deepen its experience of applying its technology in the construction in plateau areas.

It has also helped lay a solid foundation for the full opening of the Sunan-Qilian highway to the public in June this year.

Bai Yong, magistrate of Sunan, thanked the CTCE builders, who in spite of the harsh geological conditions, successfully completed the tunnel construction in a timely manner.

It will undoubtedly help elevate the local social and economic progress, Bai said.

Zhou Mingjie contributed to this story.

Xinjiang targets transportation
By CUI JIA in Beijing and MAO WEIHUA in Urumqi
Members of the 13th Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region People's Congress attend a meeting at Xinjiang People's Hall in the region's capital, Urumqi, on Monday. [CUI ZHIJIAN/FOR CHINA DAILY]

Five-Year Plan continues trend that has brought 'profound changes' to region

The Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region plans to further boost investments in key transportation infrastructure, including highways and airports, during the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25). It will also improve the facilities in core economic zones at border areas so the region will open up more under the Belt and Road Initiative, the region's chairman said.

Poor transportation and issues with water conservancy and energy infrastructure have always been key obstacles in the economic and social development of Xinjiang, which covers about one-sixth of China's territory.

"With continuous efforts in investing in and constructing such infrastructure in the past five years, they have been able to provide strong support for the development of Xinjiang and made profound changes to both urban and rural areas," Shohrat Zakir, chairman of the region, said in his government work report during the annual session of the regional people's congress in the regional capital of Urumqi on Monday.

Xinjiang's fixed-asset investments reached 4.1 trillion yuan ($637.8 billion) from 2016 to 2020, about 1.29 times that of 2011 to 2015. The region built 1,184 kilometers of highway from 2016 to 2020, more than 21.5 percent of its total highway length, according to the work report.

Xinjiang aims to build a highway network around the Tarim Basin linking the cities and counties of southern Xinjiang to support local development. The highway length is expected to reach 10,000 km by 2025 from the current 5,500 km.

The region also plans to build 15 new airports by 2025, bringing its total number of airports to 37. Xinjiang is already the region with the most airports in China. The new planned airports help the region, which was an essential link on the ancient Silk Road, to have a Silk Road in the air, Shohrat said.

Another focus will be building the International Land Port of Urumqi and two economic zones in Kashgar in southern Xinjiang and Horgos in northern Xinjiang to accelerate the region's opening-up progress under the Belt and Road Initiative, Shohrat said. More infrastructure to support that will be constructed and a series of international cooperation projects will be started in the economic zones.

The region's 5,600 km border touches eight countries, including Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. The central government considers it a core area on the Silk Road Economic Belt.

Due to the penetration of extremism, separatism and terrorism, the region was frequently hit by terrorist attacks for a period of time, but "such a passive situation has been completely turned around", Shohrat said, adding that no terrorist incident has happened in the region for more than four years.

Social stability has safeguarded economic and social development, he said. The average growth of the region's annual GDP from 2016 to 2020 was about 6.1 percent. The average annual disposable income of rural residents reached 14,056 yuan, more than 2.8 times that in 2010, according to the report.

Stability has also boosted the tourism industry of Xinjiang, which is known for its grand scenery and diverse cultures. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the region received 158 million visits from tourists in 2020.The number is expected to reach 400 million in 2025, Shohrat said.

Transport upgrade leads village to prosperity
By AYBEK ASKHAR
Tourists cycle along a sealed road in a mountainous part of Sichuan province. CHINA DAILY

On a sweltering afternoon in 1996, Zhang Yunying, then a 44-year-old farmer, was furious with herself when she realized she had left her house keys at a store down the hill.

She was almost home when she realized, which meant it would take nearly two hours to walk back to the store and retrieve the keys, and even longer to get back to her hilltop home.

Back then, a narrow, steep and often muddy trail that passed through the hills was the only way for Zhang to reach the outside world.

"The trail leads to the county seat down the hill, where the villagers sell homegrown tea and buy groceries. My parents told me that it was also the main path for the transportation of salt long ago," Zhang said.

Her village lies above a deep mountain valley on the border between the southwestern provinces of Sichuan and Yunnan.

Many local trails, including the one Zhang took, were part of the Tea Horse Road, an ancient network of caravan paths that wound through the mountains.

A survey conducted by the State Council, China's Cabinet, and published in 2017 as part of the nation's first geographical census, showed that about 95 percent of Sichuan's land consists of mountains, plateaus or hills.

Those factors made it difficult to carve out roads for centuries.

That's why the trail Zhang took-dating from the Tang Dynasty (618-907)-was still in use until recently, although its poor condition and narrow width made it unsuitable for modern vehicles.

Villagers pick skullcap leaves in Zhaojue county, Sichuan. A better transportation infrastructure has helped local people live more prosperous lives. SHEN BOHAN/XINHUA

Hard times

Local resident Zhang Debin said: "It was hard for farmers to walk up and down with full baskets on their backs. Sometimes, they had to pay porters when the tea they grew was ripe."

The 43-year-old operates a tea-processing plant in Pingshan county, which is under the jurisdiction of Yibin, a mountain-encompassed city in southern Sichuan.

He said the only proper road for vehicles ran through Yibin, and while it was fine in good weather, mud made it impassible after rain.

"Poor transportation facilities affected communication with the outside world, and the inhabitants of this place lacked almost everything: food; clean water; gas; you name it," Zhang Debin said.

"In the past, the standard of living was low for many people in the county."

Until 1983, about 60 percent of county towns in the province were inaccessible to automobiles, so most places relied on human and animal power for transportation, he added.

A sealed road winds through mountains in the south of Sichuan. CHINA DAILY

Migrant workers

Years ago, like many of his young peers, Zhang Debin wanted to make a decent living outside the county, so he became a migrant worker in the economically active coastal regions.

Sichuan's GDP growth rate was lower than the national average for 13 of the 20 years from 1980 to 2000. However, it was also the most populous province until Chongqing was designated a provincial-level municipality in 1997 and became a separate entity.

In the past 40 years, Sichuan has been China's largest exporter of migrant workers, while coastal Guangdong province has seen the largest inflow of such people.

By 1995, the year Zhang Debin went to work at a toy factory in Guangzhou, Guangdong's capital, six highways had been built in the province and a further seven were under construction.

It was also the year a highway was built in Sichuan, the first major road in western China.

"There were many large factories offering well-paid jobs in Guangdong, so it had become a friendly place for young people to work. It was also where I first heard the phrase, "Want to be rich? Build roads!" Zhang Debin said.

That became a battle cry in Sichuan when a growing number of decision-makers realized the poor infrastructure was impeding economic development in the province and forcing many people to leave.

During the Ninth Five-Year Plan (1996-2000), social and economic development initiatives helped the province expand its road construction program.

In the last year of the plan, the length of sealed roads in Sichuan reached 108,529 kilometers. Completion of 1,000 km of highways ranked Sichuan sixth in the country in terms of road length and first among the western provinces and regions.

After that, Sichuan's economy maintained double-digit growth for 12 consecutive years until 2001, while the rate exceeded the national average for 17 consecutive years.

"I felt that many things had started to change when I returned home for Spring Festival years later-for example, many people had TVs at home and some had even bought cars," Zhang Debin said.

A raised highway cuts through the mountains of Sichuan in Southwest China. CHINA DAILY

Changing attitudes

One of the biggest changes is that young people in Sichuan now seem to have a different attitude toward leaving their hometowns.

In 2016, two years after graduating from a university in Chengdu, Sichuan's capital, He Xin applied for a civil service job in his hometown in a county in Yibin.

"I owned a new media studio in Yibin for two years, but it did not work out," he said.

"I knew local civil servants could earn a decent salary and they were able to practice what they preached, so I applied for a low-level position because of the fierce competition at the higher levels."

He was quickly dispatched to work in a village situated on the same hill as Zhang Yunying's home.

Nowadays, if Zhang Yunying leaves her keys at the store, it only takes 40 minutes for her to make a return journey by car to pick them up.

He Xin drives along the same road to the village where he works.

The journey only takes an hour, and it is difficult for him to understand the changes sealed roads have made to local residents' lives.

"I have heard from the senior staff that in days gone by almost no young university graduates wanted to work in the villages because they did not want to settle down on the mountain," He said.

Poor infrastructure had long impeded social and economic development, while growing urbanization resulted in declining populations in China's rural areas.

Now, working at the grassroots is a good option for people who want to avoid the fierce competition in big cities, according to He.

After the government decided to deepen rural development, more and more resources were poured into the antipoverty battle in the countryside, while reducing the cost and time of accessing job opportunities and social services became a priority.

From 2013 to 2017, the central government spent 400 billion yuan ($61 billion) on building and upgrading rural roads, and now about 99 percent of the villages located on plateaus, deserts or grassland have access to roads.

CHINA DAILY

Spending spree

In Sichuan, the government has spent 124.14 billion yuan building and upgrading 116,000 km of sealed roads in rural areas during the past five years.

This year, the total length of rural paved roads in the province reached 291,000 km, the most in the country.

Transportation in Pingshan has also seen significant changes. In 2015, all the county's villages were connected by sealed roads, and since last year, a reliable intervillage bus service has been provided for residents.

In 2016, Zhang Debin returned to Pingshan and opened his tea factory with the money he had saved as a migrant worker, even though he had originally planned to use it to buy a house in Guangzhou.

"Before, during the harvest season, the tea farmers even had to carry their tea down the hills at night using flashlights," he said.

"Now, whenever they are ready to do business, a truck will be waiting on the hill to carry the tea to my plant to process it."

The "Immortal Poet", Li Bai (701-762), who lived at the height of the ancient Tea Horse Road, once wrote, "The road to Shu is harder than scaling the skies!"

The "Shu" he mentioned is today's Sichuan, and the line is a vivid illustration of the inconvenience of transportation in the province centuries ago.

"Li may have walked the same trails the farmers used to take every day," Zhang Debin said.

"But as paved roads have now spread all over Sichuan, those old trails have entered the realms of history."

Expressway cuts time between Tianjin, Shijiazhuang
By Zhang Yu in Shijiazhuang
The Jinlai toll station on the Tianjin-Shijiazhuang Expressway stretches across the roadway. [Photo/CCTV]

An expressway linking Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, with neighboring Tianjin opened on Tuesday, cutting one-way drive time between the two cities from four hours to three, the Shijiazhuang Bureau of Transport said.

The 233.5-kilometer expressway starts at Jinghai district in Tianjin and ends at Guaijiaopu village in Shijiazhuang, the bureau said. Tianjin is located northeast of Shijiazhuang.

The new road will help promote the coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region and the development of Xiong'an New Area in Hebei — a new economic zone near Beijing. It will also promote the development of places along the expressway, the bureau said.

Aerial photo taken on Dec 22, 2020 shows the Tianjin-Shijiazhuang highway in North China. [Photo/Xinhua]

The new expressway also connects with some others, including the Beijing-Shanghai Expressway, the Beijing-Hong Kong-Macao Expressway and the Beijing-Taipei Expressway.

As a two-way expressway with six-lanes, the Tianjin-Shijiazhuang route was designed for speeds of 120 kilometers per hour, the bureau said. In the past, travelers need to make a detour from Baoding or Cangzhou in Hebei when driving from Shijiazhuang to Tianjin or the other way around.

The Tianjin-Shijiazhuang Expressway is the first new route to be built in the expressway network centered in Xiong'an New Area, according to a report by Hebei Daily. It added the expressway is a key connection for Tianjin, Xiong'an and Shijiazhuang.

Highway helps build careers and countries
By ZHAO RUINAN
The Vientiane-Vangvieng section of the China-Laos expressway will be opening soon. [Photo provided to CHINA DAILY]

Work on BRI link between China and Laos puts opportunities on fast track

It's been a remarkable transformation for a Laotian graduate fresh out of college to a career as a fully fledged professional translator in just two years. That's the path taken by A Lin, now 28, thanks to opportunities arising from a China-backed construction project in his country.

For someone at the start of a career, his first job has been different from the openings that other young Laotians seek out. He was working on the first phase of the China-Laos expressway, also known as the Vientiane-Vangvieng highway, which has now been completed. Preparations are underway for its imminent opening.

The China-Laos expressway stretches from the Laotian capital Vientiane to the border town of Boten, about 440 kilometers away. Chinese technical construction and operating standards have been used on the project, and are being implemented in four phases.

Construction on the Vientiane-Vangvieng section of the expressway-a key part of the Belt and Road Initiative-began on Dec 30,2018. The works were undertaken by Yunnan Construction and Investment Holding Group, or YCIH, which is also an investor in the project. When it opens it will become the first expressway in the country.

Built at a cost of 8.9 billion yuan ($1.3 billion), the 111-km section will better connect the two cities in Laos, boosting the prospects for exchanges between people in dramatically improving their transport options.

"It used to take locals in Vangvieng at least four hours to get to Vientiane, and the new highway will cut that to just one and a half hours," said Li Hongjie, the manager of the project.

For locals, what the project brings is far more than convenience. More than 2,400 of them have worked on the highway's construction, about half of the total work force.

Apart from those directly involved in construction, local people also work as translators and interpreters, as with A Lin.

He graduated from Guangxi University for Nationalities in 2018 and joined YCIH in October that year when the project was in the preparation stage.

Role seen as a bridge

"I'm really happy with the way things have gone," said A Lin, describing himself as a bridge between the Chinese company and his compatriots.

"In just two years I've advanced from a greenhorn college student with little idea about a career to becoming a skilled translator.

"My family gave me money every month when I was in the college, but now I can support them."

Of the local employees, more than 80 percent are on-site builders. To better familiarize and equip Laotians with building technology, the company set up a training program before construction work began.

Li said: "For example, we (experienced Chinese engineers) would make a sample with building materials on site and then discuss with local workers on how to perfect it to meet construction standards."

With that training under their belts, local construction workers have been able to expand their technical capabilities and hone their skills.

"Laotians have been critical to the highway's construction," Li said. "What they have done has been invaluable."

Many local contractors, including equipment leaseholders and material suppliers, have also benefited from the project. And, for most of them, it is the first time that they have been involved in building a road to such demanding standards.

A local contractor responsible for building about five kilometers of roadbed said the company's engineering and construction techniques have improved thanks to the close collaboration with YCIH.

As with businesses the world over, YCIH has had to grapple with the consequences of the pandemic-the first of these being when construction was disrupted after the coronavirus appeared early this year.

The company quickly introduced a series of anti-epidemic measures. By July more than 200 construction managers had returned to Laos on chartered flights, guaranteeing the project was not hampered unduly by the pandemic.

In addition, the company helped Laotians fight the outbreak there. On April 28, it donated 500 million Laotian kip (about $54,000) to help the country combat the pandemic.

Infrastructure paves the way to glory
By Willa Wu

Legendary builder Gordon Wu Ying-sheung was among the first Hong Kong tycoons to recognize Shenzhen's potential. Now he says it's time to let it lead the way forward. Willa Wu reports from Hong Kong.

A checkpoint of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. Property tycoon Gordon Wu Ying-sheung proposed the idea of the bridge for the first time in 1983. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

When Gordon Wu Ying-sheung proposed building a superhighway to connect Shenzhen and Guangzhou in 1981, the infrastructure and property tycoon thought it would take the quiet fishing town next to Hong Kong 100 years to become a modern metropolis.

On Oct 14, the 84-year-old was recognized — for having recognized early that his assessment need not be so. Attending a celebration to mark the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, Wu was the only Hong Kong property developer among 40 people honored for their contributions to the 40 years of development that have pushed Shenzhen to fifth among Asian cities in terms of GDP.

"I think the honor shows that I had not failed Shenzhen," Wu said during an interview in the boardroom on the top floor of his 64-story Hopewell Holdings headquarters in Wan Chai. When Hopewell Centre was completed in 1980, it was the city's tallest — and first round — building.

Bridges, tunnels, roads

Wu was among the first wave of Hong Kong investors to plough money into the Chinese mainland after then-paramount leader Deng Xiaoping ushered in the reform and opening-up policy in 1978.

Wu took a different approach from his fellow businessmen. Instead of putting money in manufacturing, he set his eyes on bridges, tunnels and roads.

Wu described his business interests as a reflection of his "pragmatic" character.

"I never touched things I didn't know," said Wu, who earned his bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Princeton University in 1958.

Wu recalled telling Liang Xiang, then-Shenzhen's Party secretary, that a city requires three types of hardware to thrive: transportation, electricity and communication. Knowing nothing of communication, he would provide the other two for Shenzhen. A pragmatic man, as he puts it.

The business icon's investments in Shenzhen include the Guangshen Expressway, the Chinese mainland's first expressway built with overseas investment. It directly connects Guangzhou with Shenzhen and Hong Kong at the Huanggang Port.

The project started from Wu's unpleasant experience in traveling from Guangzhou to Shenzhen. The 150-kilometer distance took him six to seven hours in the early 1980s.

"Bridges, tunnels and roads bring efficiency, a key factor for any city's development," he said.

The mainland began accelerating highway construction in 1978, with capital not only from the central government, but also private corporations, banks and overseas investors. At that time, the total road network on the entire land mass of 9.6 million square kilometers was only 890,000 km.

The country entered its highway era when Hujia Expressway, which links Shanghai with its satellite city Jiading, opened to traffic in 1988. One year later, Guangdong province saw its first highway, Guangfo Expressway. Both were financed by local governments.

Wu's 1981 proposal for the Guangzhou-to-Shenzhen highway took six years to get started. He used that time designing, conducting field surveys, getting approval from different levels of leadership and managing capital.

"I wanted it to commence service as soon as possible," Wu said. "It would play an important role in the country's development."

On July 1, 1997 — the day Hong Kong returned to the motherland, the Guangshen Expressway opened for traffic. Shortening travel time to no more than two hours, the highway links two of the mainland's four first-tier cities and has a daily traffic volume of around 600,000 vehicles.

Along with the expressway project, Wu was involved in building the Shajiao B Power Station in Dongguan city neighboring Shenzhen, which solved Shenzhen's lack of a sufficient supply of electricity.

Shenzhen was among in the first batch of cities designated in 1980 as special economic zones, which were granted greater latitude in creating policies attractive to overseas investors as part of the nation's economic reform. Shenzhen's official data shows that the city's urban development has grown from three sq km in 1979 to 940 sq km today, as a permanent population of over 13 million.

When asked about the reasons for Shenzhen's success, Wu said the city was built on the policy the municipal government has consistently adhered to: reform and opening-up.

"Few governments around the world are able to consistently adhere to the same policy for 40 years, and always encourage entrepreneurship," Wu said, adding that the consistency in policy helped craft a stable environment for development.

He also praised the people of Shenzhen for their determination to pursue social mobility. "The city leaves an impression on me that people are eager for advancement. It is hard for such a city not to succeed," Wu concluded.

Shenzhen's GDP expanded at an annual rate of 20.7 percent to 2.7 trillion yuan (US$403.5 billion) in 2019 from 270 million yuan in 1980.

In 2018, Shenzhen's GDP surpassed Hong Kong's for the first time. The special economic zone recorded 2.42 trillion yuan compared to Hong Kong's HK$2.8 trillion (US$367 billion), equivalent to 2.4 trillion yuan at that year's exchange rate.

Gordon Wu (fifth from left) poses with Guangdoing province officials at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Guangshen Expressway on April 23, 1987. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

HK should prepare for challenges

The celebration Wu attended also marks a new beginning for Shenzhen.

President Xi Jinping, in his speech at the event, urged Shenzhen to promote the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, as the city plays a crucial role as a growth engine for the 11-city cluster.

The Bay Area, a national-level development blueprint that ties Hong Kong and Macao with nine mainland cities, is the largest economic zone development in the world. It strives to rival Silicon Valley in the United States.

Ahead of the ceremony, the central government showered Shenzhen with a package of favorable policies, ranging from boosting innovation-driven economy to luring professional talent.

In Wu's eyes, the engine role Shenzhen is going to play is sending a message to Hong Kong: Prepare for challenges.

Challenges Hong Kong is facing are not just from Shenzhen. Sandwiched between China-US trade tensions and caught by the COVID-19 pandemic, Hong Kong's GDP shrank by 8.9 percent in the first quarter of 2020 and 9 percent in the second.

But the veteran businessman is optimistic for his home city. He said that Hong Kong is capable of meeting challenges if it can fix two problems: the city's governing style and acute housing needs.

"The leadership of Hong Kong should be more proactive and fearless. Don't avoid the pressing affairs in their charge," he said.

He referred to the city's longstanding, deep-seated problem — affordable housing. "I noticed that Shenzhen's rapid development is in part because the government has solved the housing problem, even though a large number of people from rural areas were heading to the city at that time," he said.

Wu also attributed part of the violent turbulence Hong Kong experienced in the latter part of 2019 to insufficient affordable housing for the city's youth. Starting in June 2019, protests against a proposed extradition law amendment, which was ultimately shelved, morphed into violent clashes between radicals and police.

"How can you ask people to work for the city's development if they are not sheltered in a proper place?" he said. Hong Kong has ranked as the world's least affordable housing market for 10 consecutive years, according to the annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Study.

Wu backs the government's proposed Lantau Tomorrow Vision reclamation project, announced by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor in her 2018 Policy Address, which is intended to house 1.1 million Hong Kong residents by 2035. The Legislative Council has yet to approve funding for the project's preliminary study.

But he thumbed his nose at a proposal to ask the central government to lease Zhuhai's Guishan island to Hong Kong for housing. "Hong Kong can solve the problem itself. Asking the mainland for more land is like begging when having a gold bowl at hand," Wu said.

Meanwhile, Wu said Hong Kong should change its mindset as the leading force in Southern China. "When Shenzhen started to open its door to overseas investment, Hong Kong was like a big brother to it, helping it a lot. Now it is time for Hong Kong to accept that the leading role could be shouldered by different cities, and cooperation is the only way to consolidate your advantages," Wu said.

He implored Hong Kong to stay vigilant in maintaining its edge — professional services such as finance and legal, and provide them to Shenzhen in the development of innovation.

"Don't just follow a trend after learning others are making money of it," Wu said. "Do what you are good at. Excel in it so that nobody can catch up with you."

Shajiao B Power Station in Dongguan city, which was designed by a team led by Gordon Wu. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

Messages to the young

When asked if his success could be copied and pasted by today's Hong Kong youth, Wu said it sure can.

"As long as they care to look for opportunities in the Bay Area, and be more tolerant when facing a different culture," he said.

He recalled when Hopewell Holdings invested in building infrastructure on the mainland, some mocked him for building roads on soil where people could not afford bicycles. Now, Wu stands 41st of Hong Kong's 50 richest persons in 2020, according to Forbes.

"There is a population of 1.4 billion behind the Bay Area. That is a vast market that generates capital and is in great need of talent. And most importantly, it is much easier to reach your own country than foreign ones," Wu said.

Another message Wu wants to convey to the young: Learn Chinese history, especially what has taken place since the mainland introduced reform and opening-up.

"The history of modern the mainland will help Hong Kong youth to learn how the country shapes its economy and how that promises a bright economic prospect," Wu said, adding that he believes more youth will be willing to build their future in the Bay Area.

Chinese history is an independent compulsory subject in Hong Kong's junior high schools, with a newly revised curriculum, which was applied in 2019, that includes a focus on the establishment of the People's Republic of China and the reform and opening-up that started in 1978 .

But the subject is elective in senior high schools. Data from the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority shows that from 2011 to 2016, the number of senior students taking Chinese history for their Diploma of Secondary Education exams declined by 70 percent.

"Consider the past, and you shall know the future. I really hope more Hong Kong young people take a look at contemporary Chinese history," Wu said.

In a corner of Wu's office stands a desk for sketching architectural drawings. On it are some new sketches, pencils and T-square rulers. At the age of 84, Wu arrives at the office around 9 am every work day. He said he has no specific time for real retirement.

An aerial view of the Guangshen Expressway. Gordon Wu was one of the investors in the expressway. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)
Gordon Wu points to a map of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Zhuhai Expressway on Oct 23 in his Hopewell office. (PARKER ZHENG / CHINA DAILY)
Recovery picking up pace in transportation sector
By WANG KEJU
The construction of the main structure of a highway bridge over the Yangtze River is completed in Wuxue, Hubei province, on Tuesday. The 3,355-meter bridge connects Wuxue on the northern bank with Hubei's Yangxin county in the south. WEI DONGSHENG/FOR CHINA DAILY

The recovery of China's transportation sector accelerated in the first three quarters of this year, with surging infrastructure investment and steadily-restored passenger transport and logistics, an official with the Ministry of Transport said on Wednesday.

The fixed-asset investment in the transport sector expanded 9.8 percent from one year earlier during the first nine months, reaching 2.51 trillion yuan ($374 billion) as the sector continued to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic, ministry spokesman Wu Chungeng said.

The growth rate marked the highest level over the same period in the past three years as transport investment saw a year-on-year increase of 1.4 percent and 2.2 percent in the first three quarters of 2018 and 2019, respectively, he said at a news conference held by the State Council Information Office.

Combined investment in highways and waterways took the lion's share of the total investment with an inflow of 1.88 trillion yuan in the period, exceeding the government's annual target for the year, he added.

Wu said that the accelerated growth came as the country encouraged infrastructure investment to improve weak links in the sector and stabilize economic growth.

In addition to the existing transportation infrastructure construction, 311 new highway and waterway projects were approved during the first three quarters of the year, with a combined investment totaling 585 billion yuan, he said.

With its effective control over the COVID-19 epidemic, China has also seen continued recovery in its economic activity as passenger and freight throughput volumes all posted growth.

Freight volume decreased 3.3 percent year-on-year during the first three quarters to about 32.8 billion metric tons but has registered positive growth for five consecutive months since May, Wu said, adding that the growth rate reached 4.4 percent during the period and has almost returned to pre-epidemic levels.

Passenger transport has seen an upturn after enduring an epidemic-induced setback, with the passenger trip volume in September recovering to over 66 percent of the level seen during the same month last year, he said. The country handled a total of 6.8 billion passenger trips during the January-September period.

Wu also noted the demand for express delivery, and China-Europe freight train services have shown strong momentum despite the fallout from the COVID-19 epidemic.

More than 56.1 billion parcels were delivered during the first three quarters, up nearly 28 percent from a year earlier, Wu said. He added that the number of China-Europe freight trains rose significantly during the period as well, with a total of 8,756 trains being put into operation, a year-on-year increase of 46 percent.

China's transportation achievements in numbers
High-speed trains wait to run during the Spring Festival travel rush in Nanjing, East China's Jiangsu province, on Jan 10, 2020. [Photo by Su Yang/for chinadaily.com.cn]

China's transportation goals set in the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) are expected to be fulfilled satisfactorily, said Minister of Transport Li Xiaopeng at a news conference on Thursday.

Investment:

The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge is a landmark project of the Greater Bay Area development. [Photo by Wang Jiaxin/For China Daily]

From 2016 to the end of this year, China is expected to achieve 16 trillion yuan ($2.39 trillion) of fixed-asset investment in transportation.

Railway:

A trial train hits 220 kilometers per hour on a section of the Shanghai-Suzhou-Nantong Railway during a top-speed test run on May 4, 2020. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The total railway network has reached 146,000 kilometers, connecting 99 percent of cities with populations of more than 200,000. The high-speed railway network alone has reached 38,000 kilometers, connecting 95 percent of cities with populations of more than 1 million, a global record.

The high-speed trains carry 70 percent of all train passengers.

Urban rail:

Shanghai's metro system is one of the longest in the world. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The total urban railway has reached 7,000 kilometers.

Road:

Winding roads lead to a village in Bijie, Guizhou province. The roads were renovated in April 2020. [Photo/China News Service]

The total road network has reached 5.1 million kilometers. The highway network has reached 155,000 kilometers, connecting 98.6 percent of cities with more than 200,000 people.

The newly built and refurbished roads in rural areas have reached 1.39 million kilometers by the end of September, and the figure is expected to exceed 1.4 million kilometers by the end of this year.

Waterway:

A bird's-eye view of the Tianjin Port on Aug 14, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

The country has 16,100 kilometers of high-grade inland waterways, and 2,530 berths of 10,000-ton class and above at coastal ports.

Civil aviation:

Passengers board a Hainan Airlines airplane at Haikou Meilan International Airport in the capital city of Hainan province on Nov 12, 2018. [Photo by Hu Yuanjia/For China Daily]

The number of airports has reached 241, covering 92 percent of cities in China.

The country had 4,568 domestic routes connecting 234 Chinese cities, and 953 international routes connecting 167 cities in 65 countries. Moreover, China has signed bilateral air services agreements with 127 countries, including 96 countries and regions involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.

The on-schedule rate of civil aviation flight increased from 67 percent in 2015 to 81.65 percent in 2019.

The civil aviation's annual average growth of turnover, passenger capacity and freight traffic volume were 11 percent, 10.7 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively, during 2015-2019. The country's civil aviation shipping scale remains the world's second-largest for 15 consecutive years.

By September, China's passenger and freight airplanes had flown safely for 121 month, or a total of 86.69 million flight hours.

Infrastructure projects:

A flag-raising ceremony is held by the Civil Aviation Administration of China to mark the first anniversary of the Beijing Daxing International Airport in Beijing, Sept 25, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

The country has built Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, the Beijing Daxing International Airport, Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway.

Postal services:

An express worker processes packages at a delivery station in Qinhuangdao, Hebei province, on Feb 24. [Photo by Cao Jianxiong/for China Daily]

The revenue of post industry increased from 403.9 billion yuan in 2015 to 1.1 trillion yuan in 2019, with the annual growth hitting 22 percent. The delivery volume surged from 20.7 billion in 2015 to 80 billion this year, which contributed 50 percent to the world's courier, express, and parcel market.

The average annual growth of delivery volume is over 30 percent during the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) period. The total logistics cost has been reduced by more than 450 billion yuan.

New technologies and new business models:

A 5G-enabled vehicle on show during the China Information Technology Expo in Shenzhen, Guangdong province. [Photo/China News Service]

The new technologies and new business models on transportation industry are developing vigorously, with the technologies to build cross-ocean bridge, cross-ocean tunnel, deep-water channel and high-speed railway leading the world. China-made twin-engine single-aisle C919 completed its maiden flight, Beidou Navigation Satellite System is seeing wide application across the country, the business models of online car-hailing and customized bus are emerging, intelligent express terminals are widely distributed, and drone, driverless cars, and unmanned warehouse start to pilot use in delivery industry.

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