March 14, 2014

China's High-Speed Empire

Tom Zoellner, Foreign Policy

The Associated Press

The irony of Beijing’s embrace of high-speed trains is clear to those who know the country’s history. After British companies pried their way into China with gunboats during the Opium Wars in the mid-1800s, they urged their reluctant hosts to build railways. Initially resistant to the “fire cart” and fearing an influx of cheap imported goods, the Qing dynasty -- with an eye toward opening up coal mines in the country’s interior -- eventually capitulated and allowed foreign contractors to build several lines. Chinese army strategists also realized that, with the help of a railway, “one soldier can have the impact of a dozen” -- and that rail could be used to fight the British if they ever invaded again.

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TAGGED: High-Speed Rail, China


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