While you were looking elsewhere … China now builds the best bridges in the world

While you may have been distracted by the way ‘Western’ countries (that is, a small group of former colonisers) are tearing themselves apart, China has quietly become a world leader in another area: bridge building.

You may know that the best and most advanced mobile phones are designed and contructed here (Huawei Mate 30), or that China is now the leading innovator and constructor of high-speed rail in more and more places throughout the world, or that China leads the world in re-afforestation and consistently wins awards for environmental protection, or that it offers a more stable model of governance, or that … the list could go on and on and it increases at a stunning rate.

But bridges? Given that most of China is quite mountainous, bridges are an absolute must (as are tunnels). And since a crucial feature of the poverty alleviation program, let alone the Belt and Road Initiative, is the construction of rail and road, bridges cannot be avoided. The outcome is that China is now the world leader in bridge technology and construction.

For example, China has recently constructed the world’s longest sea bridge in Fujian province connecting five islands and the mainland.

It will not be long before the island of Taiwan is connected with the mainland by such a bridge.

At the same time, the country’s bridge building is winning international awards. The showcase is Beipanjiang Bridge, on the border between the mountainous Guizhou and Yunnan provinces. More than half a kilometre above the gorge it spans, it required significant innovation to deal with complicated geographical conditions. It won the Gustav Lindenthal Medal in 2018 and the special merit award by the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) in 2019. Not a bad result in a country that in 1978 was one of the poorest in the world, with more than 95 percent below the poverty line. Not any more.

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8 thoughts on “While you were looking elsewhere … China now builds the best bridges in the world

  1. Hello professor Roland! I’d just like to ask 2 questions, not actually related with this post(btw, that’s an awesome post. Amazing infrastructure development!).

    1) I’d like to ask if you allow me to translate some of your articles here to portuguese(I’m brazilian) and post them on my Medium profile?
    2) Do you know any article or book that talks about How and Why China is a Dictatorship of the Proletariat? Like, for example, how does CPC work internally, how Workers opinion are taken into account, how chinese elections work and workers control in general. I see that a lot of arguments on China’s Socialist Nature are economic arguments, while there aren’t many sources on China’s Political Socialist nature(In contrast, it’s somewhat easy to find this kind of info on Cuba and DPRK)

    Kind regards from a fellow brazilian marxist that enjoys your work

    1. May I suggest you focus on material relating to democratic dictatorship (Mao) and the ‘three represents’ (Jiang Zemin) as to how the dictatorship of the proletariat has unfolded in China. Relevant here also is the way classes develop under socialism. Stalin already indicated that classes would not only continue but develop in a new way, albeit (ideally) in a non-antagonistic way. Thus, by the 1940s, the Soviet Union identified three: workers, collective farmers, and intellectuals. China’s process goes much further and from a different basis: not only are there urban and rural workers (peasants->farmers), but also a whole new group raised out of poverty in the last 40 years. They used to use the term ‘middle class’ in China, but this is too weighted with Western European assumptions concerning the bourgeoisie, so now ‘middle-income’ is preferred (much more work needs to done on this group: is it a distinct class? How does it overlap with rural and urban workers? How do party members like Jack Ma fit in? And so on). They now number about 500 million and deeply supportive of and integrated with the CPC.
      A further area concerns how the CPC works internally. There is plenty of Chinese language material, but I am not sure if there is much in other languages (need to check). The membership is 89 million, with careful efforts to ensure members come from rural and urban working backgrounds, as well members from the ‘middle income’ group. These include people all the way from entrepreneurs like Jack Ma to a whole new younger generation of communist intellectuals.
      As for inner-party democracy, it would be very useful to look at grass roots democracy. For example, in every village where there are 3 members, a branch is formed and a party secretary is elected. The same applies to any ‘private’ enterprise, whether Chinese or foreign. Elections to higher posts are indirect, meaning that candidates are assessed in light of ability, undergo further training at a party school, and are elected by county, provincial, autonomous region, and national level bodies – depending on the level.
      Hope this helps a little.

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