While Cali Can't Even Finish a High-Speed Rail, China Makes Massive Step in Infrastructure

We’re not necessarily in favor of big-government infrastructure spending here at The Western Journal, mind you. But even conservatives acknowledge there are some projects of public benefit so big they require government involvement to be a success.

That, unfortunately, is where China has been demonstrating its prowess lately. The country has quickly become an infrastructure behemoth, scoring with one huge project after another.

California, meanwhile, can’t even get close to finishing a high-speed rail project.

Before we begin, it’s worth noting that while no one has actually proven California’s proposed high-speed rail system would be a public benefit at all, it’s a boondoggle that’s burned through a boatload of taxpayer cash. Now, the state is in even deeper trouble after the federal government canceled a nearly $1 billion grant dating from 2010.

“On May 21, the State of California and the California High-Speed Rail Administration filed a legal action in federal court challenging the decision to ‘de-obligate the nearly $1 billion in federal grant funding for the California High-Speed Rail project,’ according to Elizabeth Scott, information officer for the high-speed rail administration,” reported BenitoLink, an online news outlet in San Benito County.

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The rail administration, according to BenitoLink, is “still conducting community working group meetings to gain input on routes and impacts on communities.”

In February, newly elected Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, announced that the $77 billion project would need to be scaled back, focusing on a single line between Merced and Bakersfield, according to Reuters.

The original project, which would have linked the northern part of the state with the southern via a line over 500 miles long, would have been fully operational by 2033.

“Let’s be real. The current project, as planned, would cost too much and respectfully take too long. There’s been too little oversight and not enough transparency,” Newsom said during his State of the State address in February. “Right now, there simply isn’t a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to LA. I wish there were.”

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“Abandoning high-speed rail entirely means we will have wasted billions and billions of dollars with nothing but broken promises, partially filled commitments and lawsuits to show for it,” Newsom continued.

“And by the way, I am not interested in sending $3.5 billion in federal funding that was allocated to this project back to Donald Trump.”

Meanwhile, in China:

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Yes, that’s right. An airport, nearly completed on the capital city’s south side, will be open in September, according to The New York Times.

“Beijing Daxing occupies 18 square miles of land, more than two-thirds the size of Manhattan, in southern Beijing and the adjacent province of Hebei,” The Times reported last year. “It’s trumpeted as a key part of the ‘Jing-Jin-Ji’ economic development plan, which will unite Beijing, Hebei, and the port city of Tianjin into an economic region to rival the country’s more prosperous economic hubs, Shanghai and Guangzhou.”

Now, it’s worth noting that China doesn’t have some of the same difficulties making an airport that one has in the United States, and that’s a very good thing for us.

“Obtaining this land wasn’t a problem, because in China all land is owned by the state,” The Times reported. “Protests do occur in China when communities are razed to make way for megaprojects — especially in years past, when some people killed themselves rather than lose their homes.”

This isn’t something we want in the United States — but there has to be some sort of happy medium if taxpayer money is going to be spent.

However, this is an airport that began construction only seven years ago. Meanwhile, California’s high-speed rail began construction only four years ago but was scheduled to take almost 20 years to complete.

We know China wouldn’t take this long to complete a high-speed rail line. In fact, the country has already proven it.

The Beijing-Guangzhou line is currently the longest high-speed rail line in operation. Construction began in 2005 and concluded in 2018. That’s 13 years, certainly a lot shorter than what California was proposing.

And that’s even assuming we need high-speed rail. There are plenty of other things we should be spending our money on.

If you fly from New York to Beijing’s new airport, no matter what New York airport you fly out if, you’ll see just how pitiful our infrastructure is compared to China’s. The same thing can be said for our roads.

Instead of a boondoggle like the California high-speed rail project, inspired in part by airy-fairy visions of carbon-free transportation, how about we focus on stuff we know we need and we know will work?

After all, that’s what our biggest competitor — China — is doing.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture