Chinese Railways, Why? Part 7 of 9

Chinese Railways, Why? Part 7 of 9

9/18/2014 Umut Türker 1903 Times Read

In terms of exporting and importing, China, the United States, Germany and Japan are in the top four in both categories. As of 2012, China is the world’s largest exporter and the second largest importer, although that may change this year. Of the ten largest ports in the world, six (Shanghai, Shenzhen, Ningbo-Zhoushan, Guangzhou, Qingdao and Tianjin) are in China, which actually has seven if you include the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong. The transportation of cargo by ships from and to China is helped by the fact that China has a coastline of 8,700 miles, or 14,000 kilometers.

 

For landlocked areas and for when time is important (such as the transportation of produce and food), air freight transportation is needed. However, this method is hampered by volume. China’s volume is simply too high. As of 2013, China’s exports were the equivalent of USD2.21 trillion. Moreover, China’s largest trading partners are the European Union, the United States, Hong Kong, ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations), Japan, South Korea, Brazil, India, Russia and Taiwan, all countries and areas accessible by sea. Again, there seems to be “lies, damned lies and statistics” and it seems that there are anywhere from 200 airports (a surprisingly low number) to 500 airports (which may or may not include military airports) in China. However, there are numerous reports of China rapidly building up to 70 new airports in the next few years. My best guess, though, is that these--as well as the existing airports--are primarily for passenger or domestic purposes, and that most freight--especially in terms of value--is done through ships.

 

That leaves rail or trains as the transportation of goods. In China, almost all train freight is coal, ores and minerals, grain and fertilizer for domestic purposes. International transport of goods by train from China is less than 1.5% of the overall tonnage of train freight.