Policy Briefing: Outline for Building China’s Strength in Transport

During the last decades China underwent a holistic socio-economic transformation, which accelerated after the opening-up reforms in the late 1970s. Along with rapid economic growth and urbanization came the large-scale expansion of the country’s transport infrastructure – as the foundation of overall economic development and increasing life quality.

With the rapid development, problems have occurred, such as environmental degradation, severe air pollution, and high carbon emissions. The transport related carbon emissions increased from 397 million tons in 2005 to 1.04 billion tons in 2018, accounting for about 10 percent of the total emissions in China.

China recognized the need for a paradigm shift as a necessary precondition for long-term oriented sustainable growth. In its 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020) China has set and implemented various ambitious measures to develop its transport sector in a more integrated manner. Besides the further expansion of its basic transport infrastructure, ambitious goals are set to promote an environmental-friendly, innovative and technology driven transport sector development.

Based on these targets and aiming to provide a guiding framework for the long-term oriented development of the transport sector, on September 19th, 2019, the Outline for Building China’s Strength in Transport was released. The outline, which was approved by the Communist Party of China Central Committee (CPCCC) and the State Council is a long-term oriented top-level and systematic guiding policy. It lays the foundation of China’s ambition to transform from a speed- and scale-centered and comparatively isolated development model towards an innovative, quality- and efficiency-centered integrated transport model. The original text of the policy can be found here.

The document describes the future vision and roadmap of China’s transport sector with a clear message: China wants to become a global transport superpower by 2050.

To achieve this goal, the Outline for Building China’s Strength in Transport points out to build a so-called comprehensive modern transport system in the following two phases:

Phase 1 – 2020 to 2035: Building an advanced and globally competitive transport system.

By 2035, a “major transport country” shall be built. By then, the transport system shall fully meet the demand and serve the country’s overall modernization.

Phase 2 – 2036 to 2050: Building an internationally highly competitive transport system

By 2050, an internationally highly competitive and leading transport system shall be established. China’s transport system shall globally meet highest standards not only by scale but in quality of technical equipment, technological innovation capability and related professional workforce, intelligent and smart transport capabilities, environmental conditions, traffic safety and governance capacity among others.

As a general guideline for China’s transport sector, the policy serves the long-term top-level strategic and coordinated development and lays the foundation for the country’s medium-term transport strategies, the coming Five-Year Plans and further specific implementation plans on national and sub-national level.

If you want to know more about the key tasks of the guideline, you can find a detailed policy briefing here: http://www.sustainabletransport.org/archives/7316

Contact: Sebastian Ibold, Jingzhu Li

On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conser vation and Nu­clear Safety (BMU), in partnership with the Minis­try of Transport (MOT) of the People’s Republic of China, the project “Sino-German Cooperation on Low Carbon Transport” (CLCT) is being im­plemented by GIZ.

Development of China’s transport infrastructure 1949 to 2018, selected numbers (Source: GIZ based on numbers presented by Li Xiaopeng, Minister MoT)