To counter China’s rapidly slowing economic growth, the Chinese government has returned to the policy playbook that worked well in the past: spending money on large infrastructure projects. Cissy Zhou specially for the South China Morning Post.
The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China’s top economic planner, has accelerated its review process and approved 27 infrastructure projects with a total expected investment of 1.48 trillion yuan (US$219.43 billion) since the start of 2018, of which 16 worth around 1.1 trillion yuan were approved since the start of November.
Concerns were raised over a return to the debt-fuelled infrastructure investment binge that caused Beijing to halt approval of such projects in 2017, however, the need to stabilise the economy, which Beijing’s highest decision-making body set as the government’s top priority in July, took precedent.
We review the top 10 infrastructure projects by expected investment value that China has approved since the start of 2018, each costing over 50 billion yuan (US$7.41 billion).
The total investment for the 10 projects is projected at 1.158 trillion yuan over the next six years, or about 78 per cent of all newly approved infrastructure investment since the start of 2018.
1. Shanghai Urban Rail Transit Expansion (US$44.23 billion)
Nine rail projects including six subway lines and three intercity railways will be constructed from 2018 to 2023.
The projects are estimated to total 286km and will cost 298.35 billion yuan. The network is aimed at creating better connections between the financial hub’s two airports and two major railway stations.
2. Intercity Railway along the Yangtze River in Jiangsu province (US$34.35 billion)
Eight regional intercity railways will be built in a metropolitan cluster along the Yangtze River in Jiangsu Province, a move to shorten commuting time from Nanjing, the capital city of Jiangsu province, to other districts and cities within the province.
Some of the lines will also connect Nanjing to municipalities in the neighbouring Anhui Province.
Construction of the intercity lines are estimated to cost about 231.7 billion yuan, with the construction running until 2025.
3. Wuhan Urban Rail Transit (US$21.78 billion)
Four metro lines plus four urban express lines will be constructed in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, with a total investment estimated at 146.9 billion yuan.
The NDRC said that the projects will support Wuhan’s urban layout and ease the city’s traffic congestion.
A circle line with 37 stops starting from Wuchang railway station tops the investment plan, which alone will cost 58.39 billion yuan (US$8.66 billion).
The construction will run from 2019 to 2024.
4. Intercity Rail Network in Eastern Guangdong (US$14.86 billion)
The intercity rail network in eastern Guangdong province, with a total investment of 100.2 billion yuan (US$14.86 billion), will facilitate connections between the cities of Shantou, Shanwei, Chaozhou, and Jieyang.
Construction on three rail lines totalling 320km started construction in 2018, with work on four others totalling 140km will start “at the right time”, according to the NDRC.
No specific completion date was mentioned by the state planner.
Seven urban rail transit lines, including the extension of three existing lines and four new lines, are due to be constructed in Changchun from 2019 to 2024. Photo: Alamy
5. Suzhou Urban Rail Transit (US$13.84 billion)
Construction on four new urban transit lines in Suzhou was expected to start last year and finish in 2023.
Total investment is estimated at around 93.32 billion yuan (US$13.84 billion).
Among the four new lines, a 41km line will connect the city to Shanghai.
6. Changchun Urban Rail Transit (US$10.55 billion)
Seven urban rail transit lines, including the extension of three existing lines and four new lines, are due to be constructed in Changchun from 2019 to 2024.
The project is part of the government’s strategy to revitalise China’s northeastern provinces and boost the development of the city’s new districts.
The investment for the new projects is estimated at 71.14 billion yuan.
7. Xi’an-Yan’an High Speed Rail (US$8.18 billion)
A planned high speed rail connecting the Shaanxi provincial cities of Xi’an and Yan’an, the birthplace of Chinese Communist Party’s revolution, will also stop off at Chinese President Xi Jinping’s hometown of Fuping, located in the centre of the province.
The project will cost 55.16 billion yuan and will be completed within four and a half years.
8. Hangzhou Urban Rail Transit (US$8.3 billion)
An additional budget of 56.01 billion yuan has been granted for the already approved Hangzhou urban rail transit project.
Some 41.98 billion yuan (US$6.22 billion) of the new investment is for the new airport express from Wushan West station to Hangzhou International Airport.
According to the NDRC, it aims to better connect Hangzhou’s urban rail lines to the airport and to Hangzhou West railway station, a planned new station that is part of the infrastructure upgrade for the 2022 Asian Games which will be held in the city.
The construction will be completed by 2022.
9. Chongqing-Qianjiang High Speed Rail (US$7.93 billion)
China’s first railway tunnel under the Yangtze River – the high speed rail link between Chongqing and Qianjiang – will be completed in the next five and half years at a cost of 53.5 billion yuan.
As a major section of the Xiamen-Chongqing high speed rail line, the Chongqing-Qianjiang section covers 265km and will allow speeds of up to 350km/h.
10. Guangxi Intercity Railway Network (US$7.67 billion)
A total investment of 51.7 billion yuan will be put into two intercity railways in Guangxi province, with one from the capital city Nanning to the southeastern city of Yulin, and the other from Nanning to the southwestern city Chongzuo.
The track network is to be completed by 2023 and will connect regional towns with a total population over 500,000.