News reported that China can offer a “complete package,” including financing, to help build California's $40 billion high-speed railway. For the cash strapped state currently under a $19.1 billion budget deficit, this is the kind of offer it cannot ignore.
China to build California's railway? The nation has come such a long way. To take some historical perspective, let's dust off this piece of old news. In 1902, New York Times reported that "Chinese Government Ratifies the contract of the American China Development Company" to build the 750 miles long Canton-Hankow Railway.
It was the era of railway. Foreign powers have obtained all kinds of concession in China, among them railroad building. In this race, America is only a small, perhaps a much less evil, player. Unlike the California high speed railway, which is only a business dealing, railway concession in those days are more like land grab by colonial power. This include the exclusive right to build and operate railways in China. In some case it even include right to move goods duty free and unrestricted military use.
One of these is the Chinese Eastern Railway. Completed in 1903 by the Russians, it provides a direct route for the Trans-Siberian railway to reach the far East port of Vladivostok through the Chinese territory. It also allows Russian to assert their power in Northeast China, Korea and the Pacific. The Russian ambition is not to be tolerated by their Japanese rival. After the victory in the Russo-Japanese War (which was fought on the Chinese soil), the Japanese gradually took control of the railway. After the Japanese defeat in WWII, Russian regain a share of the railway. It was only until 1952 did China finally assume full control of this railway.
Those were the long dark age when China was in great peril to be conquered and divided. Who would have though someday China would come around to build the high speed rail in the United States?
2010.09.16 comments -