Magazine December 19, 2011, Issue

Fast Track to Nowhere

A staff member stands on a high-speed train at Wuhan’s Hankou Railway Station in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, April 8, 2020. (Aly Song/Reuters)
China’s experience with high-speed rail provides a cautionary tale

President Obama may have telegraphed an important theme for next year’s presidential election when he attempted to steamroll his new stimulus program through Congress by invoking the specter of falling behind China. “Building a world-class transportation system is part of what made us an economic superpower,” he claimed. “And now we’re going to sit back and watch China build newer airports and faster railroads?”

China’s experience with public infrastructure does hold important lessons for the U.S. But they aren’t necessarily the ones many Westerners, including the current U.S. president and his advisers, seem ready to embrace.

As high-speed-rail projects move forward in …

Samuel Staley — Mr. Staley is associate director of the DeVoe L. Moore Center at Florida State University and a senior research fellow at the Reason Foundation, where he manages the China Mobility Project.

In This Issue

Articles

Features

Books, Arts & Manners

Books

The Gonzo Files

A review of Fear and Loathing at Rolling Stone: The Essential Writing of Hunter S. Thompson, edited by Jann S. Wenner.

Sections

The Week

The Week

The case for Newt is that he’s nothing like that guy who used to be governor of Massachusetts. The case for Romney is very similar.

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