12 April 2016 Talk at London Book Fair: China, Urbanisation, Infrastructure, and Trains

01:10 (UTC±00:00 +DST), 13 APR 2016 | GBR HARROW, GREATER LONDON

It’s not a David Feng talk if it’s not about trains.

With the population of just over two Londons moving from the countryside to the city every year across China, something will have to carry them. And whilst the country may have pretty much the largest national motorway network on the planet, it’s also home to over two-thirds of the world’s HSR tracks.

This already-massive network — at 19,000 km (11,806 miles) — is expected to grow even more by 2020, with figures by then to hit 30,000 km (18,641 miles) for the entire nationwide HSR network. With most trunk lines running at no less than 300 km/h (186 mph), this is going to be one of the most efficient ways to get across the country.

This is no surprise: by 2030, estimates are that just under a billion — that’s 900 million, to be precise, will be living in urban centres in the Middle Kingdom. And they will probably like the newer ways to live in town, but also be confronted with a host of issues — from higher prices, to living in a hitherto unfamiliar environment, issues that have to be solved.

My talk on 12 April 2016 at the London Book Fair introduced urbanisation in China and its effects, with a focus on infrastructure. I also introduced, as a side feature, a series of new, urbanisation-centric books about the phenomenon in China, in an event organised and co-organised by the China International Publishing Group, New World Press, CCPN Global, and Global China Press. I look forward to adding my bit to the conversation — as I’ve been around just about a hundred cities and towns around Greater China (with a fair percentage of that by rail!).

We had a few questions, including one directed at me about the change in the urban fabric, population-wise, and I stated that whilst it was clear urbanisation was going to change that very fabric, it was equally important for cities to keep elements unique to them — such as Beijing’s hutongs — rather than to dump the past just for the future.


Lots of people tuned in for the talk — including guests from the Chinese Embassy in London, media organisations, academics, specialists, and the general public. This talk lasted for less than ten minutes, but it did clue audiences in on this massively important urbanisation taking place within Chinese borders — in essence, unprecedented in history.

Talks today also saw deals inked between Chinese and international publishers. And I’m more than sure you haven’t heard the last from me re: trains!