■ 22:02 (UTC+08:00), 27 AUG 2017 | CHN CHAOYANGMEN, BEIJING
Looks like I can’t quite stop talking about trains…
The China Communication Forum, held at Xiamen University, had me as a speaker about trains, of course. But instead of the tech-Sheldon-ish aspects, it was far more about the Arteries of Communications — a term “born” of this conference, which in particular fitted into my talk well on the trains and what they mean.
The arteries had roots in China with its first high speed lines in the 2000s. As the network expanded, more of China became connected. Of course routes started running to the frontiers, but also further more in the heartland and across the seafront. Eventually, the network became so big, previously planned networks were being realised years ahead — such as the 2020 goal, which was realised 5 years ahead of time.
International commerce traditionally favoured ships, and to some extents, they remain in favour — compared to air, they’re also more low-cost. However, they’re now slower than cargo trains — and China has certainly been running more of these to overseas destinations, particularly across Eurasia. Thus we’re seeing a new means of faster transport across shorter distances.
Across these rails there are also opportunities for inter-cultural communications — something which, at present, is not fully realised — but the potential is certainly there. These “belts” and “roads” will run across all BRICS countries in Eurasia — Russia, India, and China — so there is every incentive for them not to miss out.
Due to increased security in Xiamen around the BRICS summit, I had to leave early — straight to Xiamen Railway Station — for the return sleeper to Beijing. It’s also been the first time I’ve returned to the city since hosting the epic 1st China-UK TV Inno Summit. I’m impressed with Xiamen — always a nice place to return to. ■ ■ ■