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Digest to re-innovate

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China's high speed rail: All dressed up with no place to sell? Christian Science Minitor, 17 Feb 2015China built its high speed rail network by buying rolling stock and technology from foreign firms such as Kawasaki, Siemens, Alstom and Bombardier. Having adapted and reverse-engineered that technology — a process known as “digestion and re-innovation” — Chinese companies are looking for overseas sales (wrote the Christian Science Monitor’s Peter Ford).

Unlike Great Britain, China does not intend its main lines to be showcases for trains built in other countries. The export push is being driven by national prestige, and by over-capacity.


“The factories that produce high speed rail equipment overbuilt their production facilities,” says Gao Bai, director of the Center on China’s High-Speed Rail Development Strategy at Southwest Jiaotong University in Chengdu. As the domestic rollout slows, rail firms are pinning their hopes on foreign sales.

Officials appear bullish about the prospects. “A lot of countries are interested and there is a big market out there,” says Han Jiangping, spokesman for China Railways.

Others are less optimistic. Zhang Jian at the Beijing Transport University says only three large high speed projects have come close to making enough profit to pay for their construction – the rail links between Tokyo and Osaka, Paris and Lyon, and Beijing and Shanghai. (A short line connecting Beijing to the port of Tianjin has also been in the black.).

Written by beleben

February 20, 2015 at 11:34 am

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