Courtesy Reuters

China's Need for Transport

A Problem in Stability and Democracy

WHEN Chinese planners survey the work of reconstruction which must be done in their country a multitude of projects demand attention. Most of them are indeed necessary; but plans which are too diffuse will defeat themselves. The financial resources of China are limited, and the amount of aid from outside will be limited too. If Chinese resources and energies are not to be dissipated, the men who plan their country's future, and the foreign statesmen, technicians and business men who collaborate with them, must take things in the proper order. The first and foremost task is the creation of a modernized system of communications. Without that a strong and democratic China cannot be built. The low standard of living of the farmers, who form about 85 percent of the population, cannot be lifted until better transportation facilities enable them to send their goods to a wider range of markets. And until this standard of living is raised, in turn, the rural millions of China cannot buy the manufactured products of other countries. Integration of the national transportation system is the primary essential for the country's economic health and political stability and for mutually advantageous trade relationships between it and other nations.

China had just begun to develop a modern transportation system when the war with Japan broke out in 1937. Except on the eastern seaboard, the 450,000,000 people of this vast country of nearly four and a half million square miles still depended for transportation chiefly, as in ages past, on river junk, pack animal and human carrier. The limited seaboard communication system, including use of the Yangtze River as far as Ichang, was lost to China soon after the war started. The Chinese, "trading space for time," fell back into the deep and undeveloped hinterland of the southwest and northwest. The very shortage of railway and highway systems in the remote provinces of Yunnan, Kweichow, Szechwan, Shensi and Kansu was helpful in the crisis, for it deterred the enemy from invading the west

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