Archive for ‘Infrastructure’

15/06/2019

Chinese, Turkish presidents vow to promote bilateral cooperation

TAJIKISTAN-DUSHANBE-XI JINPING-TURKISH PRESIDENT-MEETING

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meets with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, June 15, 2019. (Xinhua/Wang Ye)

DUSHANBE, June 15 (Xinhua) — Chinese President Xi Jinping met his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, here on Saturday, agreeing to promote bilateral cooperation on the sidelines of the fifth summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia.

Xi said that he highly values China-Turkey relations and is willing to work with Erdogan to translate bilateral friendship into mutual trust, and constantly open new chapters in promoting the China-Turkey strategic cooperative relationship.

China and Turkey should give each other firm support on issues that touch their respective core interests and major concerns, and step up the anti-terrorism cooperation, Xi said.

Calling Turkey a traditional Silk Road country, Xi said that China stands ready to enhance their mutually beneficial cooperation within the Belt and Road framework.

The Chinese president also called on the two countries, both important members of the Group of 20 (G20), to strengthen their communication and coordination on multilateral arenas such as the G20.

Agreeing with Xi, Erdogan said that Turkey attaches great importance to relations with China, adding that Turkey is willing to strengthen high-level exchanges between the two countries and expand their cooperation in economy, trade, finance, infrastructure construction and other fields.

The Belt and Road Initiative is very important to Turkey, he said, adding that his country is willing to actively participate in its joint construction and cooperation.

Source: Xinhua

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13/03/2019

China’s coastal province Shandong unveils bln-dollar infrastructure plan

JINAN, March 13 (Xinhua) — Transport authorities in east China’s Shandong Province announced that it plans to invest 162.2 billion yuan (about 24.2 billion U.S. dollars) on roads, railways, ports and airports this year.

The investment is aimed at building an integrated infrastructure network in the province, said Jiang Cheng, head of the provincial transport department.

Last year, fixed asset investment in Shandong’s transportation sector reached 160 billion yuan, among which 115.8 billion yuan was spent on roads, highways and waterways, up 28 percent year on year.

This year, 61 percent of the investment will be on roads, Jiang said.

Shandong has set a target for its expressway mileage to reach 7,400 km by 2020. By the end of this year, the total will hit 6,400 km, he said.

More roads, bridges, and stations will be built in rural areas, he added.

About 10 railway projects are under construction in the province this year, with a total planned investment of 32 billion yuan (4.7 billion dollars). Upon completion, the province will be better connected with big cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin.

Shandong had a permanent population of 100.4 million at the end of 2018. It is one of the most populous provinces in China. An improved infrastructure network will better meet economic and social needs.

Source: Xinhua

07/03/2019

Chinese companies in Africa create great development opportunities

BEIJING, March 6 (Xinhua) — Chinese companies operating in Africa have created huge opportunities for the continent’s development, a senior political advisor said Wednesday at a press conference on the sidelines of the annual sessions of the top legislative and political advisory bodies.

There are more than 10,000 Chinese companies in Africa and over 90 percent of them are private businesses, said Nan Cunhui, a member of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference National Committee, citing a recent survey.

These companies have built roads, railways, airports, ports and other infrastructure projects in Africa, addressing the bottleneck in development, said Nan, also a vice chairman of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce. They have also invested in green energy development, including photovoltaic power stations, to boost local power supply.

The Chinese companies have also brought advanced technologies, development concepts and management to the continent, Nan said.

Citing the operation of an industrial park in Egypt as an example, Nan said over 95 percent of the employees are locals who develop professional skills and gain managerial know-how through their work.

“Chinese companies in Africa have contributed a lot to the local economic development through infrastructure construction, job creation and tax payment,” Nan said. “I believe China-Africa cooperation will go from strength to strength.”

Source: Xinhua

28/02/2019

HKSAR gov’t sees Greater Bay Area development as golden opportunity

HONG KONG, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) — The financial secretary of China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government delivered Hong Kong’s annual budget on Wednesday, saying the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area offers golden opportunities for Hong Kong to explore new directions and open up new horizons.

To support implementation of various measures, the budget, themed “supporting enterprises, safeguarding jobs, stabilizing the economy, strengthening livelihoods,” provides new resources ready for use of about 150 billion HK dollars (about 19.1 billion U.S. dollars), with additional resources earmarked for various purposes.

“This demonstrates our determination to enhance public services, support enterprises, relieve people’s burden and invest for the future,” Financial Secretary of the HKSAR government Paul Chan said.

Under mounting external pressures, Hong Kong’s economic growth moderated from 4.1 percent in the first half of 2018 to 2.1 percent in the second half of the year, with growth for the fourth quarter at a mere 1.3 percent, the lowest since the first quarter of 2016, he said.

Overall, Hong Kong’s economy grew by 3 percent in 2018, at the lower end of the range projected in last year’s Budget but still higher than the trend growth rate of 2.8 percent over the past decade, he added.

Chan forecast a surplus of 58.7 billion HK dollars for 2018-19. Fiscal reserves are expected to reach 1,161.6 billion HK dollars by March 31, 2019; economic growth of 2 to 3 percent in real terms for Hong Kong in 2019.

He said the development of innovation and technology (I&T) will bring huge economic benefits to Hong Kong, adding that sufficient resources, with a commitment of over 100 billion HK dollars has been allocated in this area so far.

More efforts will be made to support scientific research and I&T sectors by developing I&T infrastructure, promoting research and development (R&D), pooling talent, supporting enterprises and promoting reindustrialization.

Talking about national development strategy, Chan emphasized that the Greater Bay Area development and the Belt and Road Initiative are providing rare opportunities for Hong Kong.

Chan said that the outline development plan for the Greater Bay Area, promulgated last week, is a milestone setting out the development directions for the Greater Bay Area up to 2035.

Hong Kong, positioned as international financial, transportation and trade centers as well as an international aviation hub in the Greater Bay Area, will strengthen its roles as a global offshore Renminbi business hub and an international asset and risk management center; and will devote great efforts to develop I&T industries as well as international legal and dispute resolution services, the financial chief said.

Meanwhile, the Belt and Road Initiative will create greater room for Hong Kong’s economic and social development. There has been positive outcomes in areas such as supporting industries in exploring markets, establishing business matching platforms for enterprises and encouraging Hong Kong’s professional services sector to participate in Belt and Road projects.

As for land supply, Chan said, the HKSAR government will ensure that adequate resources are provided to support fully the short, medium and long-term measures to increase land and housing supply.

The estimated public housing production for the next five years is about 100,400 units and the supply of first-hand private residential units is expected to remain at a relatively high level in the coming three to four years at about 93,000 units, according to Chan. (1 U.S. dollar = 7.84 HK dollars)

Source: Xinhua

17/02/2019

India high speed train breaks down on first trip

PM Modi flags off the Vande Bharat ExpressImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionPM Narendra Modi flagged off the Vande Bharat Express on Friday

India’s fastest train has broken down on its first trip, a day after it was inaugurated by Prime Minister Modi.

The Indian-built semi high-speed Vande Bharat Express was returning to the capital Delhi from the city of Varanasi after its first outing when brakes in a carriage reportedly jammed.

Indian media quoted a railways spokesperson as saying the train may have struck cattle on the line.

The train reached a speed of 180km/hr (110mph) during trials.

Soon after the brakes failed, the drivers noticed smoke in the last four coaches and power was lost in all compartments.

Those on board, mostly railway officials and journalists, had to take another train to get back to Delhi.

Despite the railway ministry’s suggestion that the train may have hit a cow, NDTV reported that there were no signs of damage on the front of the train after the incident.

The new train service is expected to start its commercial run from Sunday. It is expected to reduce the travel time between Delhi and Varanasi by six hours.

Source: The BBC

15/02/2019

Pulwama attack: India will ‘completely isolate’ Pakistan

India has said it will ensure the “complete isolation” of Pakistan after a suicide bomber killed 46 soldiers in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Federal Minister Arun Jaitley said India would take “all possible diplomatic steps” to cut Pakistan off from the international community.

India accuses Pakistan of failing to act against the militant group which said it carried out the attack.

This is the deadliest attack to hit the disputed region in decades.

Both India and Pakistan claim all of Muslim-majority Kashmir but only control parts of it.

An insurgency has been ongoing in Indian-administered Kashmir since the late 1980s and there has been an uptick in violence in recent years.

How will India ‘punish’ Pakistan?

India says that Jaish-e-Mohammad, the group behind the attack, has long had sanctuary in Pakistan and accuses its neighbour of failing to crack down on it.

It has called for global sanctions against the group and has said it wants its leader, Masood Azhar, to be listed as a terrorist by the UN security council.

Although India has tried to do this several times in the past, its attempts were repeatedly blocked by China, an ally of Pakistan.

Mr Jaitley set out India’s determination to hold Pakistan to account when speaking to reporters after attending a security meeting early on Friday.

He also confirmed that India would revoke Most Favoured Nation status from Pakistan, a special trading privilege granted in 1996.

Pakistan said it was gravely concerned by the bombing but rejected allegations that it was in any way responsible.

But after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a speech that those behind the attack would pay a “heavy price”, many analysts expect more action from Delhi.

After a 2016 attack on an Indian army base that killed 19 soldiers, Delhi said it carried out a campaign of “surgical strikes” in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, across the de facto border. But a BBC investigation found little evidence militants had been hit.

However analysts say that even if the Indian government wants to go further this time, at the moment its options appear limited due to heavy snow across the region.

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How did the attack unfold?

The bomber used a vehicle packed with explosives to ram into a convoy of 78 buses carrying Indian security forces on the heavily guarded Srinagar-Jammu highway about 20km (12 miles) from the capital, Srinagar.

“A car overtook the convoy and rammed into a bus,” a senior police official told BBC Urdu.

It stands as the deadliest militant attack on Indian forces in Kashmir since the insurgency began in 1989.

The bomber is reported to be Adil Dar, a high school dropout who left home in March 2018. He is believed to be between the ages of 19 and 21.

Soon after the attack Jaish-e-Mohammad released a video, which was then aired on the India Today TV channel. In it, a young man identified as Adil Dar spoke about what he described as atrocities against Kashmiri Muslims. He said he joined the banned group in 2018 and was eventually “assigned” the task of carrying out the attack in Pulwama.

He also said that by the time the video was released he would be in jannat (heaven).

Dar is one of many young Kashmiri men who have been radicalised in recent years. On Thursday, main opposition leader Rahul Gandhi said that the number of Kashmiri men joining militancy had risen from 88 in 2016 to 191 in 2018.

India has been accused of using brutal tactics to put down protests in Kashmir – with thousands of people sustaining eye injuries from pellet guns used by security forces.

What’s the reaction?

“We will give a befitting reply, our neighbour will not be allowed to de-stabilise us,” said Prime Minister Modi.

Mr Gandhi and two former Indian chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir all condemned the attack and expressed their condolences.

The attack has also been widely condemned around the world, including by the US and the UN Secretary General.

The White House called on Pakistan to “end immediately the support and safe haven provided to all terrorist groups operating on its soil”.

Pakistan said it strongly rejected any attempts “to link the attack to Pakistan without investigations”.

What’s the background?

There have been at least 10 suicide attacks since 1989 but this is only the second suicide attack to use a car.

Prior to Thursday’s bombing, the deadliest attack on Indian security forces in Kashmir this century came in 2002, when militants killed at least 31 people at an army base in Kaluchak near Jammu, most of them civilians and relatives of soldiers.

At least 19 Indian soldiers were killed when militants stormed a base in Uri in 2016. Delhi blamed that attack on the Pakistani state, which denied any involvement.

The latest attack also follows a spike in violence in Kashmir that came about after Indian forces killed a popular militant, 22-year-old Burhan Wani, in 2016.

More than 500 people were killed in 2018 – including civilians, security forces and militants – the highest such toll in a decade.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars and a limited conflict since independence from Britain in 1947 – all but one were over Kashmir.

Who are Jaish-e-Mohammad?

Started by cleric Masood Azhar in 2000, the group has been blamed for attacks on Indian soil in the past, including one in 2001 on the parliament in Delhi which took India and Pakistan to the brink of war.

Most recently, the group was blamed for attacking an Indian air force base in 2016 near the border in Punjab state. Seven Indian security personnel and six militants were killed.

It has been designated a “terrorist” organisation by India, the UK, US and UN and has been banned in Pakistan since 2002.

However Masood Azhar remains at large and is reportedly based in the Bahawalpur area in Pakistan’s Punjab province.

India has demanded his extradition from Pakistan but Islamabad has refused, citing a lack of proof.

Source: The BBC

15/02/2019

Kashmir attack: Pak envoy summoned, ‘verifiable’ action against JeM sought

Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale told the high commissioner that Pakistan must take “immediate and verifiable action” against the Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group that has claimed responsibility for Thursday’s attack in Kashmir.

INDIA Updated: Feb 15, 2019 15:12 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PM Modi Jhansi,Modi Pulwama attack,Pulwama attack
Prime Minister Narendra Modi(PTI file photo)

India on Friday summoned Pakistan envoy Sohail Mahmood to lodge a strong protest over the suicide bombing in south Kashmir’s Pulwama by Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM).

Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale told the high commissioner that Pakistan must take “immediate and verifiable action” against the Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group that has claimed responsibility for Thursday’s attack in Kashmir.

A Jaish suicide bomber on Thursday rammed a car packed with explosives into a CRPF convoy on the Jammu-Srinagar highway. The CRPF has confirmed 38 deaths in the suicide bombing, counted among the bloodiest in Kashmir. Initial reports, quoting security officials, had said 44 jawans were feared to have been killed in the attack.

The foreign secretary also told Pakistan that it must “immediately stop” groups or individuals linked to terrorism operating from its territories.

In the hours after Thursday’s attack, New Delhi had issued a strong statement that accused Pakistan of giving “full freedom” to the terror group to operate and expand its terror infrastructure to carry out attacks in India and elsewhere with impunity.

Islamabad responded with a two-line statement that said it had “always condemned heightened acts of violence” in Kashmir. Pakistan also said it will “strongly reject any insinuation by elements in the Indian government and media circles that seek to link the attack to the State of Pakistan without investigations”.

Foreign Secretary Gokhale rejected this statement by the Pakistan foreign office.

Source: Hindustan Times

07/02/2019

Spotlight: Cross-border infrastructure helps promote tourism in Hong Kong and Greater Bay Area

HONG KONG, Feb. 6 (Xinhua) — Benefiting from the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) witnessed a record high of tourist arrivals last year.

Data released by the Hong Kong Tourism Board showed that the overall tourist arrivals soared to around 65.1 million in 2018, up 11.4 percent from that of 2017. Among the overall growth, visitor arrivals from the mainland saw a rise of 14.8 percent to 51 million.

As the cross-border infrastructure further ties up the Hong Kong SAR and the mainland, Hong Kong will further promote tourism in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (Greater Bay Area), said tourism industry insiders.

“From the latter half of 2017, Hong Kong began to see an upturn in tourism, and witnessed a continuous increase in the number of tourists in 2018,” said Yiu Si-wing, member of the Legislative Council of the HKSAR.

“Since the operation of the Express Rail Link and the bridge, we see an apparent growth in visitor arrivals to Hong Kong.” Yiu pointed out.

He viewed tourists from the mainland as the driving force to push Hong Kong’s visitor arrivals to a new high. “It takes less time and fewer procedures for those visitors to Hong Kong via the Express Rail Link than before when they need to transfer to Hong Kong after first arriving at Shenzhen,” said Yiu.

Cross-border infrastructure has facilitated the transportation between the mainland and Hong Kong by integrating the SAR into the national high-speed railway network.

An increasing number of tourists traveled by the Express Rail Link to Hong Kong, and to meet their demand for in-depth tour, new routes featuring natural and cultural characteristics have been introduced, said Ng Hi-on from China Travel Service.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board has promoted “Old Town Central” and “Hong Kong Neighborhoods” as tailored tours for travelers to experience Hong Kong.

Besides, tourists can enjoy festivals and events in Hong Kong, such as night parade, horse racing and flower markets.

Cruise tour is another product the Hong Kong Tourism board has promoted. After the launch of the Express Rail Link in September 2018, the Dream Cruises company introduced a “rail cruise” route in November, welcoming more than 1,000 tourists from Hubei and Yunnan provinces and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region to Hong Kong for a land-sea trip.

Tourism in the Greater Bay Area has huge potential, as cities in the area can work with one another to develop multi-destination travel with cross-border infrastructure, according to Anthony Lau, the executive director of the Hong Kong Tourism Board.

Yiu said that travelers can travel through cities in the Greater Bay Area via transport links and the tour pattern enriches their trip.

He called for more efforts by Guangdong Province, and the Hong Kong and Macao SARs to forge closer bonds so as to build the Greater Bay Area into a tourism brand.

Source: Xinhua

28/02/2017

Building Binge: ADB Calls for More Infrastructure Across Asia – China Real Time Report – WSJ

BEIJING–Asia needs at least $1.5 trillion of roads, bridges and other infrastructure annually between now and 2030 to maintain its growth momentum, a doubling of earlier projections, according to the Asian Development Bank.

In a report released Tuesday, the Manila-based development bank said the tab would run even higher if climate change is factored in: Upgrading power plants, transport systems and other facilities would boost regional investment by another $241 billion annually among some 45 Asia and Pacific countries.

Infrastructure has gained favor as a way to boost flagging growth following the 2009 global financial crisis. U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed to spend $1 trillion over a 10-year period rebuilding U.S. roads and bridges. China spent 15.2 trillion yuan [$2.2 trillion] in infrastructure fixed-asset investment in 2016 alone. The world’s second-biggest economy is promoting its infrastructure-led growth model, creating the Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which touts itself as a more efficient alternative to the likes of the World Bank and ADB.

Countries that fail to invest in infrastructure may see economic growth pinched by bottlenecks and lackluster job-creation. The ADB’s current projections represent a doubling of the $750 billion in annual infrastructure requirements the bank forecast in 2009 for the 2010-2020 period. The Asia-Pacific region currently invests around $880 billion annually in infrastructure, according to ADB.Governments currently pay around 92% of the cost of infrastructure in the region, the bank estimates in its report. Boosting spending levels, it said, is going to require tax, regulatory and institutional changes to draw in the private sector.

“Governments can get more bang out of their infrastructure investment,” said ADB economist Rana Hasan. Mr. Hasan acknowledged that the Asian region is unlikely to spend the full $1.7 trillion annually, but said the ADB hopes its recommendations can bring governments closer to those levels. “They need to make it more attractive for the private sector,” he said.

Of the estimated $26 trillion in projects required between 2016 and 2030 to bolster economic output, alleviate poverty and respond to climate change, $14.7 trillion is needed for the power sector, $8.4 trillion for transport, $2.3 trillion for telecommunications and $800 billion for water and sanitation projects, the report said.While acknowledging the need for better and more infrastructure, some economists caution that corruption and politics can significantly undercut the economic benefits of big building initiatives.

“Most developing countries could use more infrastructure. But the problem is not a lack of demand. It’s a lack of credibility,” said Guanghua School of Management professor Michael Pettis. “If your debt gets too high, you start running into debt-servicing problems, defaults and other problems.”China has relied on infrastructure investment as a form of economic stimulus since the global financial crisis in 2009. Since then, local government debt, much of it to fund infrastructure, has risen by two-thirds, according to Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC. That debt stood at more than 41% of economic output in 2015, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch.Beijing has also struggled to attract private investors. Though it has strongly promoted public-private partnerships, some have stumbled during implementation, many due to mismatched expectations of private companies and the state sector.

More favorable reviews have been given to China’s ambitious plans to modernize the ancient Silk Road trade routes. Known as “One Belt, One Road,” the program envisions a network of ports, bridges, rail lines, industrial parks and telecommunication links linking China to the rest of Asia, Europe and points beyond.

The large sums have caught the attention of foreign engineering and equipment companies such as Caterpillar, ABB Group and Vermeer Corp., which are hoping for a slice of future projects.

Source: Building Binge: ADB Calls for More Infrastructure Across Asia – China Real Time Report – WSJ

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13/01/2017

Opinion is divided on China’s massive infrastructure projects | The Economist

CHINA is proud of its infrastructure: its cavernous airports, snaking bridges, wide roads, speedy railways and great wall. This national backbone (minus the wall) bears the weight of the world’s second-largest economy and its biggest human migration, as hundreds of millions of people move around the country during the lunar new-year holidays—the rush officially begins on January 13th.

Western leaders often shake their heads in disbelief at the sums China spends on its huge projects. And some analysts question how much of it has been wisely spent. In a widely circulated study published last autumn, Atif Ansar of Oxford University’s Saïd Business School and his co-authors say the world’s “awe and envy” is misplaced. More than half of China’s infrastructure projects have “destroyed economic value”, they reckon. Their verdict is based on 65 road and rail projects backed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) or the World Bank since the mid-1980s. Thanks to the banks’ involvement, these projects are well documented.

One example is a 147-km, four-lane toll road in southern Yunnan province, which was built with the help of an ADB loan approved in 1999. The ADB expected the Yuanjiang-Mohei highway (Yuan-Mo for short) to cut travel times, reduce traffic accidents and lower the costs of fuelling and repairing vehicles, adding up to a compelling economic return of 17.4% a year. By 2004, however, traffic was 49% below projections and costs were more than 20% over budget, thanks to unforgiving terrain prone to landslides.

Were such setbacks enough to damn over half of the projects they examined? As a rule, the ADB and World Bank will approve an undertaking only if they expect its broad benefits (the economic gains from reduced travel times, fewer accidents, etc) to exceed its costs by a large margin, leaving ample room for error. Mr Ansar and his co-authors assume this margin is 40%: they posit a ratio of expected benefits to costs of 1.4 for every project. They scoured the banks’ review documents for examples of cost overruns and traffic shortfalls. Given these assumptions, a project becomes unviable if costs overrun by more than 40%, traffic undershoots by 29%, or some combination of the two. Of the 65 projects, 55% fell into this category. Yuan-Mo was one.

These projects may not be representative of China’s infrastructure-building as a whole. But there is little reason to think they are unusually bad. They are often managed with greater rigour, thanks to the involvement of outside lenders.The authors’ conclusion, however, rests on their assumption about the margin for error built into the projects they looked at. Take Yuan-Mo, for example. Its projected benefits, over its first 20 years of operation, were several times greater than its costs. But as often with roads, the costs arrive early; the benefits are spread thinly over many years. In the time it takes for an investment to pay off, the resources used could have been earning a return elsewhere. So it is necessary to reduce the future payoffs by some annual percentage, known as a “discount rate”. The higher this is, the lower the value placed today on tomorrow’s gains.

So a lot turns on what rate is chosen. For historical reasons, the ADB adopts a high one of 12%. At that rate, Yuan-Mo’s ratio of expected benefits to costs equals 1.5, roughly in line with the authors’ assumptions. But at a gentler rate of 9%, the ratio improves to about 2. At a rate of 5.3% (more in line with government borrowing costs) the ratio rises to 3. With these higher margins for error, many fewer elephants turn white. At a ratio of 2, the share falls to 28%. If the ratio is assumed to be 3, the proportion of duds falls to just 8%.

The authors also assume that any traffic shortfall persists throughout its life. That is not always the case. Traffic on Yuan-Mo, for example, has rebounded, according to the road’s operator. By 2015 it was 31% higher than the ADB projected back in 1999. Around last year’s lunar new-year holiday the road handled record numbers. Some white elephants turn grey with age.

Source: Opinion is divided on China’s massive infrastructure projects | The Economist

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