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China to build 461,000 km of highways by 2035, world-class highway network by 2050

China plans to build a highway network of 461,000 kilometers by 2035 and further expand it to become a world-class one by 2050, the country's top economic planner said on Tuesday.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the Ministry of Transport unveiled a document called National Highway Network Planning on Tuesday during a joint press conference, aiming to build a modern highway network that is fully functional, efficient, green, intelligent and safe by 2035.

The plan involves highways with a total length of 461,000 kilometers, of which 162,000 kilometers will be expressways, according to the NDRC.

Highway networks will cover cities and counties with populations of more than 100,000 and important land border ports.

The new plan will strengthen links between national highways and railway terminals, airports and ports, and expand the scope of railway, water and civil transport services, in a bid to support national transport development plans, said Zhou Xiaoqi, deputy director of the Department of Infrastructure Development at the NDRC.

The National 1-2-3 Travel Circle (one hour to commute in cities, two hours to travel within city clusters, and three hours to travel between major domestic cities) and Global 1-2-3 Logistics Circle (one day to deliver within China, two days to deliver to neighboring countries and regions, and three days to deliver to major global cities) plans were released in December 2020 by the State Council, the cabinet, and were intended to take initial shape by 2035.

The new plan is seen as an upgrade of the country's national highway plan released in 2013.

China has been ramping up investment and construction of highways across the country, especially as the country strives to stabilize the economy after recent COVID-19 outbreaks in major Chinese cities. Fixed-asset investment is an important growth driver for the Chinese economy.

China's fixed-asset investment increased 6.8 percent from a year earlier to 15.35 trillion yuan ($2.26 trillion) in the first four months, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.


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