by Evgeny Semaykin
BEIJING, March 12 (Xinhua) -- The ongoing "two sessions" are drawing worldwide attention to Beijing. Just as Russia's RIA Novosti news agency stated, the policies and decisions formed in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing directly impact many affairs in the modern world.
Transport, in particular, is one of the sectors that holds great significance to China and the world. As a Russian who has lived in China for two decades and has tried various types of available transport, I believe the transition of China's transport means could be a window to track the country's development progress and its contribution to the world.
25 HOURS TO 4 HOURS
In 1996, I first came to China and took a teaching job at Central China Normal University in Wuhan, a city over 1,000 km away from Beijing. I went through many troubles to get a train ticket to travel to Wuhan from Beijing. I also had to endure a tedious and exhausting 25-hour trip. Eating wasn't easy either. I packed a bowl of instant noodles, but it was difficult to cross the aisle tightly crammed with passengers and access hot water in the dining car.
The travel experience on a high-speed train nowadays is a far cry from the past. It takes roughly four hours from Wuhan to Beijing on a Fuxing bullet train. Passengers can also connect to the internet, charge their phones or laptops, and even order takeout on the train.
The self-developed Fuxing trains operate with a maximum speed of 350 kph, which makes taking a spur-of-the-moment trip a piece of cake for Chinese people.
Over the past five years, the length of China's in-service high-speed railways increased from 25,000 km to 42,000 km, and the expressway network expanded from 136,000 km to 177,000 km, according to the government work report submitted on March 5 to the national legislature for deliberation.
China, originally a latecomer to modern transport, now has the world's largest high-speed railway network, expressway network, and world-class port clusters.
I am impressed by China's emphasis on infrastructure. The country's comprehensive transport infrastructures ensure the convenient travel of people and the efficient flows of commodities, turbocharging the entire world's economy.
ASPHALT ROAD PAVED TO VILLAGE
There are still many rural areas worldwide that lack public transportation services. But China, with a vast rural area, has built or upgraded 1.25 million km of road over the past five years. All towns, townships and villages where conditions permit are now connected by paved roads and linked to bus networks, said the government work report.
A few years ago, I traveled to Xidi, a thousand-year-old remote mountain village in east China's Anhui Province. We departed from Beijing and took a high-speed train to arrive in Huangshan City and transferred to a bus. The bus ran on a multiple-lane asphalt road, which took us to the village.
I learned that leaving for massive cities and taking migrant work used to be the main source of livelihood for villagers in Xidi. But a paved road has brought sweeping changes to the village, a vendor in her 70s told me. "Ever since there was a road, more tourists have visited the village, and our business has been booming," she said.
Xidi has been recognized among the Best Tourism Villages by the World Tourism Organization. Now more than 80 percent of the villagers are in the tourism business. The annual per capita disposable income surged from 13,000 yuan (about 1,866 U.S. dollars) in 2012 to 50,000 yuan in 2021.
With 490 million people living in the rural areas, China has prioritized transport development, especially in backward areas. The economy and livelihood of China's underdeveloped regions are thriving on roads.
COMMON DEVELOPMENT IS TRUE DEVELOPMENT
A friend of mine orders Russian takeout for his wife on a food-delivery app almost every day, and I am fond of Italian cuisine. Thanks to China-Europe freight trains -- a contemporary railway version of camel caravans -- we can all savor authentic Russian-style borsch and Italian spaghetti in China cooked with ingredients of origin.
Some 2,000 years ago, merchants traversed grasslands and deserts using camel caravans for trade between the East and the West via the ancient Silk Road. Today, a wide variety of products, from food and clothes to home appliances and automobiles, are transported to countries thousands of miles away through China-Europe freight trains under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
This year marks the 10th anniversary of BRI. Over the past 10 years, the China-Europe freight trains have connected 208 cities in 25 countries in Europe. A total of 65,000 trains have carried more than 6.04 million twenty-foot equivalent units of cargo.
The government work report noted that imports and exports between China and other BRI countries increased at an annual rate of 13.4 percent over the past five years, and exchanges and cooperation between China and these countries registered steady progress in a wide range of areas.
Examples also abound of countries benefiting from China's advanced technological prowess in transport. The landmark China-Laos Railway, which stretches over 1,000 km, links Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province, with Vientiane in Laos. The Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railway, which China participated in building, will be the first high-speed railway in Southeast Asia.
"Only when countries develop together can there be true development; only when countries prosper together can there be true prosperity." Seeing China's remarkable transport achievements and its contribution to the world, I am deeply convinced by Chinese President Xi Jinping's words.
I believe that China, a country dedicated to making the world more connected, not severed, will no doubt bring more opportunities for global development. Enditem
(Daria Karakash also contributed to the story.)