About That High-Speed Rail in China

by Rich Lowry

The Wall Street Journal has this story today:

BEIJING—China’s debt-burdened Railways Ministry, under fire after last month’s deadly train crash, might need a central government bailout and will have difficulty raising new funds, some analysts predict, adding to concerns around the country’s high-speed rail system.

Construction of the fast-train network was a linchpin of China’s economic stimulus plan to counter the global financial crisis. Led by lending from commercial banks, the Railways Ministry’s debt burden increased to hundreds of billions of dollars, largely used for accelerating the construction of the high-speed network, which Beijing heralded as world class.

The railways’ debt woes are part of the larger stimulus tab now starting to weigh on China’s government and could also call into question the economics—and not just the safety standards—of an industry China had hoped would become a significant global export. …


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