Bilingual Lawyers Legal Service Center  Hotline: 18930220709


Professional Solution

Legal Sense, Business Acumen​                       Law and Practice in China

Latest Articles

Transportation in China

1.           Convenient and Well-developed International Transportation Network

China has been committed to building an efficient transportation network with increased global connectivity. In the past few years, with ever-growing investment, the comprehensive transportation network in China has considerably improved in terms of scale and reliability. Since the beginning of the 13th Five Year Plan period, the transportation system in China has ushered in a new stage of modern development. More emphasis has been put on improving the transportation structure, service and efficiency, removing obstacles to economic development caused by poor transportation infrastructures, and increasing global connectivity with reliable international transportation routes, with a view to facilitating the all-round opening up of China to the world.

·         International Air Transportation

Since the launch of the reform and opening up, China’s aviation industry has witnessed tremendous growth. By the end of 2017, there were 229 civil airports, 64 of which had annual passenger traffic of more than one million. At present, the top three busiest hub airports in China are Beijing Capital International Airport, ranking second in the world in terms of annual passenger throughput, Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, and Shanghai Pudong International Airport, which stands third worldwide in annual cargo throughput.

In 2017, China’s aviation industry achieved total revenue tonne kilometers (RTK) of

108.31 billion, an increase of 12.06 billion, or 12.6%, over the previous year. Revenue passenger kilometers (RPK) reached 951.30 billion, rising by 113.49 billion, or 13.5% YOY; cargo and mail RTK reached 24.36 billion, growing by 2.11 billion, or 9.8% YOY. For international routes, the revenue ton kilometers attained 38.85 billion tonne-km, an increase of 14.3 over last year.

In 2017, total passenger traffic handled by the industry reached 551.56 million, up 64 million, or 13% YOY. International passenger traffic recorded 55.45 million, growing by 7.4% YOY.

In 2017, passenger traffic through all civil airports reached 1.15 billion, increasing by 12.9% YOY, among which passenger traffic in East China totaled 614 million, Northeast China 72 million, Central China 122 million, and West China 340 million.

By the end of 2017, there were 4,418 scheduled air routes in China, among which 803, or 18%, were international ones. The total length of international routes was 3.76 million km, accounting for 35% of that of all the air routes in China. If the overlapping sections of different routes are counted only once in the tallying, the total length of international routes was 3.25 million km, contributing to 43% of that of all the air routes in China. In addition, the country’s airlines operated international scheduled flights to 158 cities in 60 countries and territories. By the end of 2017, China had signed bilateral air transport agreements with 122 countries and territories, among which 44 were with Asian economies, including ASEAN, 24 African, 37 European, 10 American, and 7 Oceanian.

Since the beginning of the 13th Five Year Plan period, China has been building world- class airport clusters in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, YRD and PRD regions, and accelerating the development of more airport hubs and international gateway cities. In addition, Efforts have been made to carry out the construction, renovation and extension of feeder airports, and build more airports in central and West China, with a view to expanding the range of the air transportation network.

·         Coastal Port Layout

China boasts a long coastline and a vast inland waterway system, with water transport being a key mode to connect its inland regions with other parts of the world. Seaports, and inland waterways and ports are key components of this network. By the end of 2017, there were 127,000 km of inland waterways in China, 12,500 km of which were of Class III and above; and 2,366 berths for 10,000 DWT vessels, representing in total the world’s largest throughput, of which 1,948 were in the seaports. Seven ports in China ranked among 2018 Top 10 Ports by Cargo Throughput in the World, with the Ningbo-Zhoushan Port being top of the league. In 2017, China’s waterway transported 6.68 billion metric tons of cargo, a 4.6% increase YOY, with RTK up 1.3% to 9.86 trillion. In the same year, RMB 123.89 billion was invested in water transport systems, decreasing 12.6% YOY; RMB 64.90 billion was invested in developing highway and waterway supporting systems and other facilities, up 31.2% compared with the previous year.

In accordance with the National Plan for Coastal Port Layout released in 2006 under the approval of the State Council, and in response to the demand posed by current economic situations and industry distribution of coastal regions, China has formed a three-level port layout supported by transport systems for four major types of cargo, and five core port clusters in the Bohai Rim, YRD, southeast coastal region, PRD and southwest coastal regions. In keeping with economic development and industry distribution of coastal regions, this port layout presents a clear structure and well- defined function positioning.

Transportation Systems for Four Major Types of Cargo

1.    The coal transportation system, dominated by coal transportation from North China to southern regions, primarily consists of seven coal loading ports in northern coastal regions, including Qinhuangdao, Tangshan, Tianjin, Qingdao and Rizhao Ports, and ports in the eastern and southern coastal regions.

2.   The crude oil transportation system is constituted by berths for 50,000–300,000 DWT vessels in Dalian, Tianjin, Qingdao, Nanjing, Ningbo-Zhoushan, Quanzhou, Huizhou, Maoming, and Zhanjiang Ports.

3.    The iron ore transportation system consists of berths for 100,000–300,000 DWT vessels in Dalian, Yingkou, Qingdao, Shanghai, Ningbo-Zhoushan, and Zhanjiang Ports.

4.   The container transportation system includes eight ports situated on trunk routes, i.e. Dalian, Tianjin, Qingdao, Shanghai, Ningbo, Xiamen, Shenzhen and Guangzhou Ports, and related feeder ports that constitute branch routes.

Five Core Port Clusters:

1.    The Bohai Rim cluster consists of the coastal ports in Liaoning, Tianjin, Hebei and Shandong, where facilities have been established for transshipment, storage and transportation of bulk cargo such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) and grain, and other commodities such as automobiles, along with container ports on trunk routes and facilities for roll-on/roll-off service and passenger transportation. Major ports and shipping centers in this cluster include Dalian International Shipping Center for Northeast Asia, Tianjin North China International Shipping Center, Qinhuangdao Port, Qingdao Port, Yantai Port and Rizhao Port. It serves China’s northern regions, such as the Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang Provinces in Northeast China as well as East Inner Mongolia.

2.   The YRD cluster, backed by Shanghai, an international shipping center, is centered around the ports in Shanghai, Ningbo and Lianyungang. By leveraging the seaports and ports in the downstream of the Yangtze River in Zhoushan, Wenzhou, Nanjing, Zhenjiang, Nantong and Suzhou, it serves to promote the socio-economic development of YRD and regions along the Yangtze River. In this cluster, efforts have been made to establish following systems and facilities for the purpose of: container transportation; imported oil and natural gas loading, unloading, storage, transshipment and transportation; imported iron ore transshipment and transportation; coal loading, unloading, transshipment and transportation; grain storage, transshipment and transportation; automobile transportation; roll-on/roll-off service; domestic and international passenger transfers; liner transportation; and imported crude oil loading, unloading, storage, transshipment and transportation.

3.    The southeast coastal cluster centers on Xiamen and Fuzhou Ports and includes ports in Quanzhou, Putian and Zhangzhou. Significant systems have been built including a system for imported oil and natural gas loading, unloading, storage, transshipment and transportation of, a container transportation system, a system for grain storage, transshipment and transportation, a system for roll-on and roll-off transportation and a system for domestic and international passenger transfers. This cluster serves not only Fujian and inland provinces such as Jiangxi, but also contributes to trade ties with Taiwan.

4.   The PRD cluster is comprised of ports in east Guangdong and the PRD region. While reinforcing the role of Hong Kong as an international shipping center, it serves South China and Southwest China through Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Shantou Ports, and builds strong ties among Guangdong, inland China, and Hong Kong and Macao.

5.   The southwest coastal cluster consists of ports in west Guangdong, the coastal region of Guangxi, and Hainan. Centered around ports in Zhanjiang, Fangcheng and Haikou, it facilitates development in Central and West China and ensures expansion of interflow of commodities between Hainan and other parts of China.

2.           Advanced and Effective Domestic Transportation Network

·         Domestic Aviation Traffic

In 2017, China’s aviation industry achieved a total RTK of 69.46 billion, growing 11.7% YOY, of which Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan’s RTK reached 1.61 billion, growing by 4.3% YOY. In the year, domestic passenger traffic reached 496.11 million, up by 13.0% YOY, of which Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan’s passenger traffic reached 10.27 million, growing by 4.3% YOY. In 2017, passenger throughput of all civil airports reached 1.15 billion, growing by 12.9% YOY, among which East China reached 614 million, Northeast China 72 million, Central China 122 million, and West China 340 million. By the end of 2017, through 4,418 air routes, the scheduled flights in China connected to 224 domestic cities (excluding Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan), to Hong Kong from 30 mainland cities, to Macao from 12 mainland cities, and to Taiwan from 46 mainland cities.

·         Inland Water Transportation

China is home to more than 5,800 natural rivers with a total length of more than 400,000 km. More than 100,000 km have been developed into waterways, 70,000 km of which are navigable for motor vessels. There are also more than 900 navigable lakes of various sizes across the country (excluding Taiwan, same below). These rivers and lakes usually contain abundant amount of water and most are ice-free. Most of the navigable rivers are located in developed regions with dense populations, flowing from west to east into the ocean and suitable for river-sea transportation. By the end of 2017, inland navigable channels totaled 127,000 km, decreasing by 80 km over the previous year and remaining the same as that in 2015.

The inland waterway arteries include:

1.   The Yangtze River, the Golden Waterway of China, is 64,857 km long with more than 700 tributaries, connecting with the Huaihe River, the Pearl River and rivers in Zhejiang and Fujian provinces. At present, the freight volume by the Yangtze River accounts for 60% of China’s total inland waterborne freight volume. Major ports along the river include Chongqing, Yichang, Shashi, Chenglingji, Wuhan, Huangshi, Jiujiang, Anqing, Wuhu, Maanshan, Nanjing, Zhenjiang, Zhangjiagang, Nantong and Shanghai.

2.   The Pearl River, the most extensive river system in South China with Guangzhou at its core, is the artery of the region with 1,088 navigable channels totaling 16,463 km. Second only to the Yangtze River in China in terms of waterway transport capacity, the Pearl River plays a vital role in driving the economic growth of Southwest China.

3.    The Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, the oldest and longest man-made canal in the world with a total length of 1,800 km, links five great river systems in China, namely the Haihe River, the Yellow River, the Huaihe River, the Yangtze River and the Qiantang River, partially filling the gap in China’s natural north-south waterways. The canal facilitates the exchange of goods between southern and North China, through which daily necessities and industrial products can be shipped northwards, and commodities such as coal southwards.

4.    Other major inland waterways include the Huaihe River, the Heilong River and the Songhua River, among others. The Huaihe River, with a total length of over 1,000 km, is a waterborne artery for Jiangsu and Northern Anhui provinces. The Heilong River is a seasonal navigable waterway, whose largest tributary is the Songhua River. The 2,000-km-long Songhua River serves as a major waterway in Northeast China, with a large annual shipping volume and greater shipping capacity than that of Heilong River.

·         Rail Transport

As a typical continental country, China covers a vast span of territory, which requires a powerful means of transport to connect the whole country and parts of the national economy while facilitating the development of other means of transport. The rail transport, which boasts many prominent features including large payload, high level of safety and cost- and energy-efficiency, and insusceptible to seasonal weather, is the core mode of transport best suited to the economic, geographical and people’s income conditions of China. It has absolute advantages in long haul and large volume passenger and freight transport, and enjoys strong competitiveness in urban short haul passenger transport with large volume and high density.

By the end of 2017, railroad lines open to traffic reached 127,000 km, growing by 2.4% YOY, with the density of railroad network reaching 132.2 km/10,000 km2. Double-track railways totaled 72,000 km, rising by 5.4%, with a double track ratio of 56.5%, up by 1.6 percentage points; electric railways reached 87,000 km, increasing by 7.8%, with an electrification ratio of 68.2%, up by 3.4 percentage points. China boasted 73,000 passenger trains, an increase of 2,000 over the previous year. The number of standardized electrical multiple units (EMUs) registered 2,935 with 23,480 trains, an increase of 349 with 2,792 trains. Freight trains reached 799,000.

In 2017, the total national railway passenger traffic hit about 3.08 billion, up by 9.6% YOY, among which state-owned railways delivered about 3.04 billion passengers, an increase of 9.6% YOY. The total railway RPK reached 1,345.69 billion, increasing by

87.76 billion or 7.0% YOY, where state-owned railways contributed 1,339.70 billion, up by 6.9% YOY. China has seen a steady annual growing momentum in railway passenger traffic and RPK.

In 2017, railway freight traffic and RTK increased to 3.69 billion tons and 2,696.22 billion respectively, representing a growth of 10.7% and 13.3% YOY. Containers, commercial cars and bulk cargo hauled by freight trains increased by 47.9%, 58% and 9.3% YOY respectively. In addition, rail transport safety was greatly improved, evidenced by zero serious accidents and a drop of 3.6% YOY in death toll from railway accidents in 2017.

China has gained considerable experience in railway operation, capable of handling all geological  and  climate  conditions  in  a  reliable  and  safe  manner.  In line with the Implementation Plan for the Belt and Road Initiative, freight trains from Kunming, Dalian and Harbin to Europe were newly opened to traffic, contributing to the development of the B&R Initiative. In the first five months of 2015, container throughput from ASEAN, India, Middle East and Africa, and other countries and territories along the Belt and Road accounted for 25.0% of the world’s total throughput, up by 2.3 percentage points YOY.

·         Development of High-Speed Railway (HSR)

One of the few countries with HSR in the world, China leads in the building of HSR with the total mileage increased year by year. Statistics show that in 2017, China’s total railroad lines open to traffic reached 127,000 km, among which the high-speed ones recorded 25,000 km, accounting for two-thirds of the world total. According to the Medium- and Long-term Railway Network Plan, China’s total high-speed railroad lines open to traffic is expected to reach over 30,000 km by 2020.

With enhanced investment in recent years, HSR in China has been technologically advanced. In 2017, RMB 801 billion was invested in railway fixed assets, and 3,038 km of new railroad lines were open to traffic, among which 2,182 km were high-speed railroad lines. In 2016, the comprehensive trial operation of high-speed EMUs on the Zhengzhou-Xuzhou line was successfully completed, representing the most advanced achievement made by China in testing standardized EMUs. In 2017, the Fuxing series run at a speed of 350 kph. In 2018, the on-site trial automatic train operation (ATO) of high-speed EMUs on the Beijing-Shenyang line was initiated by China Railway Corporation, a milestone for China’s independent innovation in core technologies of intelligent HSR and an indication that China continues to be the world’s leader in HSR development. According to the Medium- and Long-term Railway Network Plan, China will be committed to building a modern high-speed rail network that covers over 80% of large cities by 2020. Further efforts will be made to develop efficient inter- and intra-city transport networks to provide reliable and convenient passenger transport services.

·         Road Transport

By the end of 2017, China’s total highway mileage reached 4.77 million km including 136,500 km of expressways, with the density of railroad network reaching 49.72 km/100 km2, up by 0.81 km/100 km2. In 2017, about RMB 2,125.33 billion was invested in highway construction, growing by 18.2% YOY, among which about RMB 925.79 billion, RMB 726.41 billion and RMB 473.13 billion were invested respectively in expressways, national and provincial highways and rural highways, rising by 12.4%, 19.5% and 29.3%.

China’s toll road policy, launched in 1984 by the State Council of China, broke away from the dependence on fiscal means and helped create a diversified financing model for road infrastructure that combines investment from the national government, local government, private sector and foreign investors. As a result, leapfrog development of road infrastructure has been achieved, giving strong support to China’s economic growth with higher efficiency and capacity of road transportation. By the end of 2016, China’s total highway mileage reached over 4.70 million km, 5.1 times that in 1984, including 131,000 km of expressways, ranking first in the world, as well as 99,200 km of Grade I highways and 371,100 km of Grade II highways, 320.3 times and 19.9 times that in 1984 respectively.