China, and its admirers, are in the odd position of boasting that among its world-beating achievements is… a network of world-class highways. Oh yes. CGTN, a state-controlled Chinese media outlet (but we repeat ourselves) posted a video in 2017 about how every year 10,000 km more are added “and China now has the largest highway system in the world”. And it’s also the scene of massive traffic jams given how marvellous the economy is. Say, are those gasoline cars?
We don’t knock the Chinese for wanting good roads. We like them ourselves. And perhaps Xi Jinping wants to fil them with electric cars charged at a vast network of stations fueled by… say, are those coal-fired power plants?
One YouTube channel with a whole lot to say about China’s achievements includes China’s Amazing Highways with the kind of forced smiles one associates with this sort of propaganda. But it’s not just them.
The Grand Tour thrills that “In 1988, China had no motorways at all. And now, 38 years later, it has 84,000 miles of them. That’s more than any other country in the world. And they’re only just getting into their stride. Since 2011, they’ve been building 6,000 miles of motorway every year.” And to be fair, as that video notes, many of them are spectacular engineering achievements through glorious but rugged terrain.
Still, try to imagine Justin Trudeau, Boris Johnson, Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, Joe Biden etc. boasting of their nation blasting out asphalt and cement at a record pace to set a world record in cars driving around. You can’t, right? Because for better or worse we are fixated on Net Zero even if it means giving up the things that have given us the good life. (As the Grand Tour video ends, “I’m telling you, in Britain we’re doomed. We’re doomed.”)
As for China and its fossil-fuel frenzy, well, watch The Red-Green Menace to get an idea of what kind of life their Hundred Year Marathon wants to give us.