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China Fast-Tracking High-Speed Trains at Home and On the Belt and Road

Date & Time

Aug. 10, 2022
9:00am – 10:15am ET


The Chinese government has been fast-tracking a high-speed railway network that today covers 24,800 miles and connects over 90 percent of big Chinese cities. The government aims to double this train network by 2025 to help reach transport connectivity and low-carbon transportation goals. 

Chinese companies have been taking their high-speed train technology and rail building experience onto the Belt and Road, particularly in Southeast Asia. Massive investments into Indonesia’s Jakarta-Bandung Line and Trans-Lao railroad, as well as lines in Vietnam and Thailand. But not all high-speed train projects have been a smooth ride. 

In this panel, speakers will explore the successes and challenges facing China's high-speed railway in balancing economic growth with financial, environmental and labor concerns at home and in Southeast Asia. Drawing on his upcoming book Localized Bargaining: The Political Economy of China’s High-Speed Railway Program, Dr. Xiao Ma (Peking University) will talk about how intense intergovernmental bargaining accelerated the high-speed train network and economic growth in some cities, but sometimes faced challenges. Dr. Selina Ho (National Singapore University) will tap into her book Rivers of Iron: Railroads and Chinese Power in Southeast Asia (coauthored with Dr. David M. Lampton and Dr. Cheng-Chwee Kuik) to discuss the broader geopolitical implications of China’s railway cooperation in Southeast Asia. Dr. Wanjing (Kelly) Chen (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology) will wrap up the discussion by sharing the hidden labor struggles and other inequities that emerged from the massive Trans-Laos railway project.

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Xiao Ma

Xiao Ma

Assistant Professor at Peking University
Selina Ho

Selina Ho

Assistant Professor at National University of Singapore
Wanjing (Kelly) Chen

Wanjing (Kelly) Chen

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Hosted By

China Environment Forum

Since 1997, the China Environment Forum's mission has been to forge U.S.-China cooperation on energy, environment, and sustainable development challenges. We play a unique nonpartisan role in creating multi-stakeholder dialogues around these issues.  Read more

Asia Program

The Asia Program promotes policy debate and intellectual discussions on U.S. interests in the Asia-Pacific as well as political, economic, security, and social issues relating to the world’s most populous and economically dynamic region.   Read more

Wahba Institute for Strategic Competition

The Wahba Institute for Strategic Competition works to shape conversations and inspire meaningful action to strengthen technology, trade, infrastructure, and energy as part of American economic and global leadership that benefits the nation and the world.  Read more

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