Sunday, September 14, 2014

Chinese Media ridicules America’s High-speed railway dream, a Global Joke

Beijing:  People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China, recently ridiculed the railway transportation system of the United States, saying its high-speed railway dream has become a global joke, to which the New York Times responded by criticizing the waste and corruption in China’s high-speed railway network.
People’s Daily took the case of a train ride from Washington DC to Boston that should have taken between six and seven hours but took 13 hours because of heavy rain to state that Obama’s high-speed rail dream has stalled without progress. The article concluded that the US rail system has big problems and that US plans for a high-speed rail network (in which China might hope to have a stake in construction) has been sacrificed on the altar of partisan fighting.
The New York Times hit back by saying that the rapid development of high-speed rail in China has featured lax oversight, corruption, cost overruns and deadly accidents. The former railways minister Liu Zhijun, who made high-speed rail his pet project, was dismissed in 2011 for corruption and in 2013 was given a suspended death sentence.
After Liu’s downfall, the Ministry of Railways was dismantled and its regulatory and business components separated.
The two articles reflect that the “fight for model” has become an important topic in the development of modern global society. At the time of the Industrial Revolution, the “British model” was seen as a prerequisite for modernization, with the market economy, free trade and British-style constitutional institutions as essential parts.
After Britain, Prussia built upon the unity and integrity of the country and nationalist ideologies, the so-called “Prussian model,” to establish itself as an economic and political power. The two models represent two different developments of western capitalism, with the free market and free trade versus national intervention and social welfare.
Competing with capitalism in the 20th century was communism, of which the Soviet model is the typical example. The core of the Soviet model was a planned economy and one-party dictatorship. With concentration of economic power and the pooling of resources, the Soviet economy saw fast growth in the early stages of its development. But later the Soviet economy became stagnant through inefficiency and bureaucracy. As the Soviet model was not capable of self-adjustment and self-renewal, it finally collapsed.
The “China model” as practiced since the Deng Xiaoping era pursues economic opening to prevent the economy from falling into stagnancy and allowing its citizens to pursue success, money and consumption, while conducting strict political centralization and social controls, also suppressing political dissent.
Now, after 30 years of fast economic development, China sees growth momentum slowing and growing dangers of social inequality. After Xi Jinping became the country’s top leader in 2012, the watchword has been the “China dream” to foster national pride and an anti-corruption drive to restore public faith in the party.
No single model for development can be applied for all times and for all people. Each government must take the best from each as its own concerns require. China feels that in its own case this means finding a balance between democracy and centralization, freedom and not-freedom, openness and control.

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