We all know generally speaking that China’s infrastructure is better than the U.S.’s.
- Two reports from Bloomberg – ‘Biden Starts Infrastructure Bet With U.S. Far Behind China’ and ‘Biden’s Biggest-Ever Investment Plan for U.S. Still Trails China’ – highlight a few of the differences.
- (We are badly in need of a careful and comprehensive comparison of the two countries infrastructures. If you know of one, please shoot me the reference.)
The first thing to note: ‘It’s difficult to directly compare spending in the two countries, as much of China’s outlays are tied to accommodating the millions of rural residents who move to cities for the first time each year.'
- 'China’s economic output per capita is about a sixth of U.S. levels, and in many cases the country is for the first time building infrastructure like urban apartments, water treatment systems and airports that the U.S. has had for generations.'
- ' “China is a developing country and the area for investment in infrastructure is larger than in a developed country,” said Justin Lin, a former chief economist at the World Bank who also advises China’s government. “In the U.S. they have the infrastructure, but it might be old and needs to be improved. So the scope for investment in high-income countries is lower.” '
‘While the top-line for Biden’s American Jobs Plan is $2.25 trillion, China’s government and private companies pour the equivalent of trillions of dollars each year into new infrastructure ranging from transport to communications networks, water projects to manufacturing.’
- ‘If spread evenly over the eight-year timeframe, Biden’s plan would be a little over $280 billion a year.’
- ‘By comparison, in China, just one source of public funds used mainly for infrastructure investment -- local government “special” bonds -- will total 65 trillion yuan ($556 billion) this year.’
‘While U.S. officials have been promising an approaching “infrastructure week” since the early days of the Trump administration, China has been plowing ahead for years.’
- ‘In February, Xi’s government set out a 15-year plan for the country’s transportation network.’
- ‘It pledges to extend China’s rail network from 146,300 kilometers (91,000 miles) in 2020 to about 200,000 kilometers by 2035 -- enough to circle the equator more than five times.’
- ‘The plan also calls for adding 162 new civilian airports, after Beijing’s new $11 billion international airport opened last year. (The U.S. has built just one major airport -- Denver international -- since the mid-1990s.)’
‘In the case of high-speed rail, President Barack Obama vowed to bet big on high-speed rail as a tool to help the U.S. emerge from the 2008 financial crisis.’
- ‘He spoke frequently in his first term about developing a rail network that could grow to rival the interstate highway system and included $8 billion in his 2009 economic stimulus package for high-speed rail lines.’
- ‘But Republican governors in states like Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida rejected the money, and a decade later a line in California that most of the rejected money was funneled to is still only in its early stages.’
‘In contrast, China’s high-speed rail network was almost 38,000 kilometers last year.'
- ‘Building is also cheaper in China, so the spending goes further.’
- ‘For example, the construction cost of the Chinese high-speed rail network is about two-thirds of the cost in other countries, according to a 2019 World Bank study.’
‘But the World Bank estimated in 2019 that only one-sixth of China’s high-speed rail lines made enough money to cover their operating costs and service the construction debts.’
- ‘That problem is likely to increase with the plan to build even more, as the newer lines will be mostly in poorer and less densely-populated parts of the country where there’s less demand.’