China to upgrade 168,000km of roads to ‘unclog industrial and supply chains’

The G6 Beijing-to-Lhasa national expressway in Hebei province (Charlie Fong/CC BY-SA 4.0)
China’s top economic planning body has set a deadline of 2035 to build an “efficient, green, intelligent and safe” road system in the country, the Xinhua news agency reports.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), together with the Ministry of Transport, said the modernised network would increase capacity and help to “sustain a modern economic system”.

Ms. Meng Wei, an NDRC spokesperson, told a press conference that the plan would involve upgrading some 58,000km of national expressways and 110,000km of highways.

She said: “Improvements in service capacity and operational efficiency of the national road network will further unclog industrial and supply chains and sustain the country’s industrial development.”

Map of highways and expressways in Mainland China, 2017 (LifanDefense/CC BY-SA 4.0)

National expressways make up the country’s National Trunk Highway System, begun in the 1980s and now stretching over 161,000km. The roads, which are electronically tolled, have an accident rate of 3.3 fatalities per 100 million vehicle kilometres, about five times higher than the average in Western countries.

The new plan involves national roads with a total length of about 461,000km, consisting of 162,000km of expressways and 299,000km of highways.

According to the commission, the work will aim for “intensive and economical use of resources, green and low-carbon development, innovation-driven development, industrial integration, and management of local government debt risks”.

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