(gaosu gonglu)
History and natural topography have greatly influenced the level of highway development in China. The density of highways in the eastern regions is five times that of western China. Accelerating the construction of the nation’s highway network holds a major significance for vitalizing the country’s overall economic development and promote commerce, trade and tourism in China’s poorest areas. Highways in China are divided into five categories: national highways, provincial highways, county roads, township roads and roads for special purposes. The road network is further divided into five technical classes. Expressways, the highest standard, feature at least four lanes with a median strip separating traffic in opposite directions. Expressway construction only started in 1980s when the Ministry of Communication announced a plan for the construction of a 35,000 km national highway trunk network based on extensive expressways.
The system will comprise five north-south and seven east-west expressways and connect inland provinces with coastal provinces and China’s borders. Eight of the national trunk lines will cross into the western region. This system, which involves substantial investment, is bringing China to experience new ways of utilizing foreign capital. The first expressway in China was completed in 1990 between the industrial centre of Shenyang and the port of Dalian in Liaoning province. By 2000, the national expressway network in operation amounted to 16,314 km. Express delivery and door-to-door services are being developed. A number of goods-flow centres are being put into operation in cities. Warehousing facilities are being implemented along the major networks.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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