James Fallows writes about the rapidly expanding Beijing Metro — which has added several lines and extended others just during Fallows time living in China. This seems like an incredibly smart decision on the part of the Beijing government. Contemplating new heavy rail transit projects tends to become dizzyingly expensive and difficult. And yet when you look back at a Washington or a Boston or a Chicago — or even more so a New York or a Paris or a London — it’s clear that investments made in such projects long ago continue to pay enormous dividends, allowing for the creation of pockets of human and economic activity that simply could never be contemplated absent the existence of some high-capacity transit nodes.
By investing in this sort of thing at a moment that’s still pretty early in the game relative to China’s economic development, the PRC is helping to provide its capital with a set of advantages that will likely far outlast the current regime.