FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Major Shakeup in Chinese Rail

by EVAN TAYLOR

As the 3,000 person National People’s Congress meets for its annual session and spectacle in Beijing, major shakeups are happening in China’s railway industry. Caixin Online reports on new plans just announced to turn the CCP’s Ministry of Railways into a single, unnamed, state owned enterprise (SOE). All 18 of the Ministry’s bureaus and its three private companies are to be considered assets of the new SOE, and its initial capital will be 1.036 trillion Yuan (167 billion dollars). What does this mean for the continent building project that is China’s railway development? The answer is impossible to tease out, but a few angles need to be examined

Looming largest is the major corruption scandal that hit the Railway Ministry in February 2011, when Minister Liu Zhijun and two top deputies were detained and investigated for “severe violations of discipline.” One of deputies, Luo Jinbao, was put on trial in late December of last year, accused of taking $7.5 million in bribes, cars, and property, as well as illegally owning a (single) shotgun. While the results of the trial have yet to be announced, he will almost certainly be found guilty, and may face execution. Such a penalty was the fate of Shen Chungfu, director of the Chongqing branch of China Mobile. Despite being the head of the world’s largest cell phone company in the world’s largest city, Shen was taken down in the same corruption purge as Luo, put on trial in November 2011, and will be killed within two years.

The trial date for Liu, who had been Minister of Railways since 2003, is unknown. However, it will certainly be high profile event, as Liu was the face of the Chinese rail boom of the 2000’s. While the U.S. was busy waging war, Beijing decided it was about time to cover Eurasia in railroad tracks, and high-speed ones to boot. Since 2008, when China completed its first high-speed line for the Olympics, the Ministry has built 5,809 miles of high-speed track, and more than ten times that amount or regular rail track. Liu also signed deals with a large number of other Eurasian countries to build international rail lines, and since 2011 the German national rail company, Deustche Bahn, has been running everyday overland rail transport between China and Western Europe. Without a doubt, Liu’s Ministry was an empire builder. Do the new plans to turn the ministry into an SOE signal a shift, a purge not only of people but of policy as well?

Finally, it is absolutely critical to question whether new reforms will help lead to better safety and good governance in Chinese rail development. Liu garnered a nickname as Little Leap Liu, as people thought his policies progressed to quickly, breeding corruption and shoddy work. There has been only one major high-speed rail crash, but charges are common that the Ministry cut corners when building so many miles of track so quickly. And as railroads have already become the dominant method of transport for domestic travel in China and are quickly gaining large parts of the market share for international trade, their proper and safe functioning is close to a global imperative. Industry depends on it, as do the 1.3 billion Chinese people and the millions of Kazakhs and Turks and Burmese and others whose countries are working with Beijing on railroad projects. It is not out of the question to call it the new backbone of the global economy. Will changing the Ministry of Railways into an SOE help put an end to shoddy workmanship and corruption? Definitely not. Will it help? Possibly. But regardless, it is a development that needs to be closely followed.

Evan Taylor is a graduate student at American University. For more on the new geopolitics of Eurasia, read his articles in the March and April edition of Z Magazine. He can be reached through his website: www.libyaproject.blogspot.com

More articles by:
June 29, 2016
Diana Johnstone
European Unification Divides Europeans: How Forcing People Together Tears Them Apart
Andrew Smolski
To My Less-Evilism Haters: A Rejoinder to Halle and Chomsky
Jeffrey St. Clair
Noam Chomsky, John Halle and Henry the First: a Note on Lesser Evil Voting
David Rosen
Birth-Control Wars: Two Centuries of Struggle
Sheldon Richman
Brexit: What Kind of Dependence Now?
Yves Engler
“Canadian” Corporate Capitalism
Lawrence Davidson
Return to the Gilded Age: Paul Ryan’s Deregulated Dystopia
Priti Gulati Cox
All That Glitters is Feardom: Whatever Happens, Don’t Blame Jill Stein
Franklin Lamb
About the Accusation that Syrian and Russian Troops are Looting Palmyra
Binoy Kampmark
Texas, Abortion and the US Supreme Court
Anhvinh Doanvo
Justice Thomas’s Abortion Dissent Tolerates Discrimination
Victor Grossman
Brexit Pro and Con: the View From Germany
Manuel E. Yepe
Brazil: the Southern Giant Will Have to Fight
Rivera Sun
The Nonviolent History of American Independence
Adjoa Agyeiwaa
Is Western Aid Destroying Nigeria’s Future?
Jesse Jackson
What Clinton Should Learn From Brexit
Mel Gurtov
Is Brexit the End of the World?
June 28, 2016
Jonathan Cook
The Neoliberal Prison: Brexit Hysteria and the Liberal Mind
Paul Street
Bernie, Bakken, and Electoral Delusion: Letting Rich Guys Ruin Iowa and the World
Anthony DiMaggio
Fatally Flawed: the Bi-Partisan Travesty of American Health Care Reform
Mike King
The “Free State of Jones” in Trump’s America: Freedom Beyond White Imagination
Antonis Vradis
Stop Shedding Tears for the EU Monster: Brexit, the View From the Peloponnese
Omar Kassem
The End of the Atlantic Project: Slamming the Brakes on the Neoliberal Order
Binoy Kampmark
Brexit and the Neoliberal Revolt Against Jeremy Corbyn
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Alabama Democratic Primary Proves New York Times’ Nate Cohn Wrong about Exit Polling
Ruth Hopkins
Save Bear Butte: Mecca of the Lakota
Celestino Gusmao
Time to End Impunity for Suharto’’s Crimes in Indonesia and Timor-Leste
Thomas Knapp
SCOTUS: Amply Serving Law Enforcement’s Interests versus Society’s
Manuel E. Yepe
Capitalism is the Opposite of Democracy
Winslow Myers
Up Against the Wall
Chris Ernesto
Bernie’s “Political Revolution” = Vote for Clinton and the Neocons
Stephanie Van Hook
The Time for Silence is Over
Ajamu Nangwaya
Toronto’s Bathhouse Raids: Racialized, Queer Solidarity and Police Violence
June 27, 2016
Robin Hahnel
Brexit: Establishment Freak Out
James Bradley
Omar’s Motive
Gregory Wilpert – Michael Hudson
How Western Military Interventions Shaped the Brexit Vote
Leonard Peltier
41 Years Since Jumping Bull (But 500 Years of Trauma)
Rev. William Alberts
Orlando: the Latest Victim of Radicalizing American Imperialism
Patrick Cockburn
Brexiteers Have Much in Common With Arab Spring Protesters
Franklin Lamb
How 100 Syrians, 200 Russians and 11 Dogs Out-Witted ISIS and Saved Palmyra
John Grant
Omar Mateen: The Answers are All Around Us
Dean Baker
In the Wake of Brexit Will the EU Finally Turn Away From Austerity?
Ralph Nader
The IRS and the Self-Minimization of Congressman Jason Chaffetz
Johan Galtung
Goodbye UK, Goodbye Great Britain: What Next?
Martha Pskowski
Detained in Dilley: Deportation and Asylum in Texas
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail