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Chapter 1

China has been a major trading partner with the United States for many years. This relationship is likely to become even stronger in the future. The success of this trading relationship very much depends on the efficiency and productivity of freight movements between the two countries and the logistics system that supports such movements. With an increasing volume of imports coming into the United States from China, the ability of the Chinese transportation system to handle its exports is of great interest to U.S. transportation officials. The ability of the U.S. transportation system to handle these volumes on the receiving end is also important—and cause for concern. The Chinese government has invested heavily in transportation, with much of this investment coming from private investors. The United States can learn from this experience.

China's transportation system is rapidly expanding to support economic growth, meet projected global intermodal freight demands, and promote expansion into underdeveloped regions of the country. Given the current understanding of intermodal freight movement that was not available when the United States developed its port capacity, the purpose of this scan was to identify how China provides intermodal access to its new, greenfield maritime ports and the possible application of those methods in the United States. The scan also looked at the investment strategies adopted by Chinese officials to foster freight mobility and intermodal connectivity in support of their global competitiveness.

Scan Composition

The scan team represented a diverse set of interests and concerns for national and State decision-making (see appendix A for scan team member biographies). In addition to Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) officials at the national and division levels, the team included representatives from the departments of transportation for California, Maine, and Pennsylvania; a representative of the I-95 Corridor Coalition; a representative of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO); a representative of the American Trucking Associations; and a university professor who also acted as the report writer. These scan members represented different modal interests and expertise in intermodal freight transportation, trucking, transportation policy and planning, and transportation system operations.

The scan team met with the following groups during its 15-day trip:

Although most of the team's visits were to specific organizations, meetings were also held under the auspices of the local American Chambers of Commerce in Shanghai and Hong Kong. The meetings provided an opportunity to meet with individuals representing many different shipper, carrier, and trade organizations.

In preparation for the scan, the team sent a set of amplifying questions (see Appendix B) to the organizations it planned to visit to outline the type of information desired.

Report Organization

This report is organized in five chapters. Chapter 2 discusses the special circumstances that reflect the Chinese experience with infrastructure provision, the expansion of the Chinese economy over the past decades, and the implications to the transportation system. Chapter 3 describes China's investments in transportation and plans for the future, and presents observations from private company representatives who met with the scan team. Chapters 4 and 5 present general observations, lessons for the United States, and recommendations for implementing the scan results.

* In April 2008, the Chinese government created a Ministry of Transportation that incorporates the former Ministry of Communications. Aviation, maritime, and highways are among the functions in the Ministry of Transportation. The Ministry of Railways remains separate. The result is a transportation policy and development entity similar in structure to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

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Page last modified on November 7, 2014
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