Category Archives: Transports

International Workshop ERC “World Seastems”: Maritime Networks in Space and Time. 16-18 June 2014

world seastemsThis conference is organised by “World Seastems”, a EU FP7 funded research programme  and will be held in Paris from June 16 to June 18, 2014.

More than 80% of world trade volumes occur by sea nowadays. Despite this enormous importance, little is known about the precise distribution and evolution of maritime flows. This international workshop on maritime flows and networks wishes to gather worldwide scholars and experts from all scientific and disciplinary backgrounds to introduce and discuss their researches on various related issues. This is a multi-disciplinary event which will investigate how maritime flows and networks of any kind can be analyzed in order to answer major industry and wider societal challenges.

Prof. Gipouloux, member of the UrbaChina programme, will take part to this event.

For more information, please visit:

Conference programmes available at

Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE - Nottingham Trent University)

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“The flying Chineseman”

Two weeks ago, a conference and exhibition on private jets was held in Shanghai. This event was widely reported by the media, which put the spotlight on China’s business jet market.

According to these articles, successful Chinese businessmen are more and more interested in acquiring private aircrafts, with a particularly high demand for the most luxurious ones.

However, as noted by Joe Sharkey1, these jets are not often seen in Chinese skies, but instead sit on tarmacs, due to tight control from the government. It is not easy, even for the richest tycoons, to make their latest Gulfstream fly because air transportation is under strict military supervision.

Although these planes are presented as business tools,  they should rather be considered expensive toys. China has already built adequate transport infrastructure (airports, high speed train networks) that make these business planes unnecessary. Moreover, virtual technology makes the use of private planes unnecessary. These jets are often bought to reflect the success of the owner; they are more symbol of social status than a means of transportation.

Still, it seems that China will have to relax airspace transport regulations (several provinces have already started this process)2 because of the rising demand for private jets, especially from members of the upper-middle class who are passionate aboutplanes.  Although the media focuses mainly on Chinese tycoons’ luxury jets, it is easy to imagine that many others will want to learn how to pilot small planes by themselves, if only for leisure.

The USA and then Europe had to adapt their infrastructure to these aviation aficionados by opening small private use airports. Some of the most passionate amateur pilots even chose to live in fly-in communities where they could park their small jet next to their house3. With the development of private aviation in China, similar projects may soon start there as well.

  1. Joe Sharkey (2014, April 15). Rich Chinese flaunt success with big luxury jets. The International New York Times, p.16 []
  2. Lan Xinzhen (2014, March 3). Up, up and away. Beijing Review. Retreived April 20, 2014 from []
  3. Judith S. Wordsworth (2011, September). European residential airparks in the context of local sustainable rural development. European digital landscape. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from []

Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE - Nottingham Trent University)

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Sustainable automobility: understanding the car as a natural system

Nieuwenhuis, Paul (2014). Sustainable automobility:  understanding the car as a natural system. Cheltenham : Edward Elgar. 208 p. ISBN: 978 1 78347 267 3 (hardback) and 978 1 78347 268 0 (ebook).

783472673If we are part of nature, then so is everything we make. This  book explores this notion using the example of the car, how it is made and used and especially how we relate to it, with a view to creating a more sustainable automobility.

We have been trying to make cars cleaner and more efficient, but has this really made them more sustainable? This book argues, within the context of sustainable consumption and production, that we should see the car as a natural system, subject to natural laws and processes. As part of this new perspective we need to change our attitude to cars, building more durable relationships and co-evolving with them. Revolutionary, perhaps; but if we get it right, this approach will allow us to enjoy motoring – albeit in modified form – into the future. The book draws on a range of disciplines, including industrial ecology, engineering, philosophy, anthropology, consumer psychology and object-oriented ontology, as well as providing industry examples to support its innovative case.

Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Traffic jams while on vacation

High speed train railroad construction near Sanya, China, Goulard SébastienThe once isolated island of Hainan has become a successful tourist destination, attracting millions of Chinese visitors every year.

The island is well connected to the mainland thanks to two airports, one in Haikou, the provincial capital, and the other in Sanya, the main tourist spot of the province. A third one will be inaugurated in 2015.
A train ferry also links Hainan to Guangdong across the Qiongzhou strait, making it possible for visitors from Beijing to get to the sunny province by train.

Within the province, most of the attractions of the Eastern coast can be reached by a high speed train. Another line will be in operation by the end of 2015. It has never been easy to travel to Hainan, but in spite of these new and efficient transport facilities, many visitors prefer to go to Hainan by car (using ferries).

As a result, during the last Chinese New Year Holiday, the city of Sanya was overwhelmed by traffic jams. Visitors who came to enjoy beaches, sun and unpolluted air, had to endure heavy congestion instead .

Some measures have been taken by the municipal authorities of Sanya to ease traffic in the city. One is to take better control of the car-rental market. Car rental is a fairly new phenomenon in China. In Hainan, professional car rentals companies, hotels, and even car dealers are involved in this business. Another is to develop more road infrastructures to prevent congestion, and a third one is to give incentives to visitors to use public transport.

Nevertheless, this issue is likely to continue in the future as Hainan is expected to host more visitors annually. To reduce traffic congestion, tourism activities in Hainan need to be less concentrated in Sanya. More attractions need to be promoted on the entire island.

Another point regards China’s public holiday system. The whole tourist industry, and not only in Hainan, would benefit greatly if the Chinese got more holidays, with more flexible dates.

Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE - Nottingham Trent University)

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The current dilemma and future path of China’s electric vehicles

Zhang, X.; Rao, R.; Xie, J.; Liang, Y. (2014). The current dilemma and future path of China’s electric vehicles. Sustainability, 6, 1567-1593. DOI:10.3390/su6031567 [Retrieved 24 March 2014]

China had set an ambitious development target of electric vehicles (EVs) to mitigate the environmental pollution. However, the actual situation of EVs far lagged behind the goals. This paper analyzes the elements impeding EVs’ development, which are identified into four contributors, including deficient EV subsidy policies, embarrassed EV market, local protectionism, and unmatched charging infrastructure. Based on the actual situation of China, this paper discusses corresponding policy suggestions and explores the alternative roadmap of EVs. In the initial development stage of EVs, it is important to select the appropriate charging mode for EVs according to different characteristics across users. Moreover, the development of hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) may open the EV market faster than battery electric vehicle (BEV). In addition, the low-speed EVs may be a good choice for the rural market and should be well developed. With the promotion of EVs, China central and local governments should make rational policies to promote EVs’ development, which is the crucial force to drive the uptake of EVs.

Download full text article (PDF)


Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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High-speed rail Oriented New Towns

On August 2013, Shan He (University of Western Australia) presented a paper on the densification of new towns in China at the Resourceful Cities conference held in Berlin1.

In this paper, Shan He looks at the development of the new towns that are emerging next to high-speed rail stations in China (High-speed rail Oriented New Towns, HONT) and the efforts made by local governments to further consolidate these areas. Since the mid 2000s, China has heavily developed high-speed railways. Most of the new stations are located outside city centres, in areas where new towns are developed. In spite of the central government’s mandate to preserve agricultural lands, China’s towns are not suitably dense.

By making a comparison between HONTs in Hangzhou and Tokyo, the author confirms this trend.

This paper identifies several obstacles that prevent the densification of HONTs in China. For one thing, local rail network is not as good in Hangzhou’s HONT: there are fewer metro stations than in Tokyo’s HONT and fewer connections between rail lines. These HONTs fail to become transport nodes. Moreover, transportation within new towns still relies too much on multi-lane roads. Shan He argues that these roads, while planned to ease traffic, only end up consuming large areas that cannot then be used for urban development.

Additionally, the railway terminal and the neighbouring blocks are not properly connected in Hangzhou’s HONT. In the case of Marunouchi (one of Tokyo’s new towns), the railway station is integrated in the new town.

Shan He also stated that urban development in HONT is not adapted to cities with rail infrastructures, using the example of car parks that are too numerous for a town with metro stations;

The author suggests more connections between regional and local rail lines so that HONTs can truly become transportation nodes and thus attract more activity. He also pleads for better planning of these new towns by taking into account the predominance of rail transportation in HONTs.

  1. Shan He (2013). High-density challenge for Chinese new towns  oriented at high-speed rail: a comparison of urban density of station node Area developments between Hangzhou and Tokyo. International RC21 Conference 2013, Resourceful Cities, August 29-31, 2013, Berlin. Retrieved 10 March, 2014, from []

Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE - Nottingham Trent University)

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Dutch plan to build smart highways

2013年12月份,Studio Roosegaarde公司提出将建造智能公路,目的是要透过简单的技术,让公路的设计更人性化、省能、安全。



Studio Roosegaarde公司介绍智能公路 (Smart Highway 网站):



Chi-Han Ai

Ph.D. candidate of EHESS ( École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris) focusing on regional economic development in China and Taiwan.

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Chinese high-speed trains in Europe

Two months ago, Chinese premier Li Keqiang visited Central and Eastern Europe, and attended a regional summit in Bucharest, Romania. This visit coincided with the conclusion of several business deals.

One of these deals concerns infrastructure and transport systems. China and Romania have agreed on the construction of a high-speed rail network connecting Constanta on the Black Sea to Bucharest and then maybe onto Budapest in Hungary.

Other countries showed interest in similar proposals; another high-speed train line may be built between Budapest and Belgrade in Serbia.

What can we learn from this partnership?

Firstly, China has gained a real expertise in high-speed rail. After building an impressive high-speed rail network in its homeland, China can now export its know-how, which will help its diplomatic relations.

Secondly, this also shows the disparities in high-speed rail development within Europe. Whereas the Eurostar has connected Paris and London for almost twenty years, rail transportation in Central and Eastern Europe still suffers from poor infrastructure.

How should Europe feel about this Chinese offer?

Of course, Central and Eastern Europeans can only welcome this opportunity that will surely boost their development.

However, some would deplore the fact that China has succeeded where the EU has failed. Why does Romania have to turn to China to get this high-speed rail network? Why hasn’t the EU launched a similar programme already?

Maybe the most important point regarding the nature of this project is the way this agreement has been reached. China will use this project as a showcase for operations in other countries, and so offered very attractive conditions for the construction of this network. Usually, before deciding on this kind of large-scaled investment, tenders are required and competition among private companies is the rule.

There is no problem using Chinese technologies for constructing and operating high-speed rail networks in Europe, as long as they are the best solution, but there needs to be fair competition among companies – this is a key principle of the EU. Furthermore, we should question if cooperation between China and EU member states should be focused solely on the financing of infrastructures, when there a broader exchange, both technologically and culturally, could be developed.

Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE - Nottingham Trent University)

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Chinese Journal of Urban and Environmental Studies (CJUES)

A new journal in urban and environmental studies, edited by Pan Jiahua, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Ni Pengfei (CAS and UrbaChina research team), is a member of the editorial board.

CJUESChinese Journal of Urban and Environmental Studies (CJUES) (ISSN 2345-7481 print /2345-752X online) is a peer-reviewed journal that seeks to publish high-quality research papers and book reviews to explore a wide range of academic and policy concerns of urban and environmental studies. CJUES publishes scholarly work with a special emphasis on the following fields:

  • theoretical and conceptual frameworks for urban and environmental studies
  • the trend of urban and environmental development in both China and international context
  • issues of urban studies, including urbanization, urban planning, urban form, urban problems, urban land use, urban transportation
  • issues of sustainability and environmental developments, including environmental protection, environmental policy, climate change
  • linkage between urban, environmental and other areas of social and economic policy
  • international comparison and developments

Table of contents (vol. 1, n° 1, December 2013)

Free access to all CJUES issues is provided until 31 March 2015
(registration online required)


Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Call for papers: Graduate Journal of Asia-Pacific Studies

Submissions are invited from graduate students for a special issue of the Graduate Journal of Asia-Pacific Studies (GJAPS): Urban Futures in the Asia-Pacific (Simon Opit, editor, University of Auckland, New Zealand).

Cities are centres of economic, social, political and cultural activity, but they can also be areas of intense poverty, unhealthy environments, dangerous spaces and captivity. With the current unprecedented rates of growth in the Asia-Pacific unlikely to abate it is of great importance that we maximise the potential of urban spaces while avoiding the multitudinous harm that cities can cause. The Graduate Journal of Asia-Pacific Studies is calling for papers that provide perspectives on the possible future of urban spaces in the Asia-Pacific.

Such a theme is open to both quantitative and qualitative perspectives on urban spaces and encourages artistic, empirical or theoretical contributions that relate to, but are not limited to any of the following major themes:

  • Examining urban policies that are argued to promote sustainable urbanism and create more resilient, liveable urban spaces.
  • Assessing the potential of future technologies and/or transport initiatives that offer solutions to urban problems.
  • Investigating layers of urban governance structures and how they impact on urban environments and their development, either as a constructive or restrictive force.
  • Analysing our understandings of urban spaces and providing critical review of the current values that underpin urban practices.
  • Detailing and evaluating methodological innovation in the field of urban studies, including new tools and technologies that provide novel ideas and a better of understandings of our urban world.

Contributions are welcome from all fields, including: social sciences and the humanities, architecture and planning, politics and policy analysis, or any other form of urban study.GJAPS interprets the designation “Asia-Pacific” in the broadest sense, to encompass East, Northeast and Southeast Asia, the Malay Archipelago, Australasia, Polynesia and Oceania, the West Coast of the Americas, including California, the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, British Columbia, Central and South America.Submissions should be received by 1st of April 2014.

More info here

GJAPS website

Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Carpooling endorsed and legalised in Beijing

In January 2014, Beijing issued the carpooling regulation for small vehicles, a lawful endorsement which officially legalised carpooling in Beijing.

However, there are illegal taxicabs, which are often called “black car”, in almost every city in China. These black cars do not have legitimate operating licenses from the transportation management department, but they provide transport services and make a profit in return. There are several types of black cars, such as motorcycles, tricycles buses, and even ambulances. Therefore, the aforementioned regulation the Beijing government announced raises questions. In order to clarify the doubts, a report from People’s Daily provided answers1.

Illegal taxicab in China, Ai Chi-Han

How to distinguish legal carpooling from black cars?

Carpooling needs to be built on long term cooperation between the owner of the car and the passengers; in short, people involved in carpooling know each other. Since the goal of carpooling is to reduce carbon emissions and the number of vehicles on the roads, most carpooling will be performed during commuting time. The price of carpooling

should not be expensive either.

Who is responsible in case an accident happens?

For carpooling, the driver and passengers should have an agreement, so it is recommended that the issue of liability for any possible accident should be stated clearly and that the insurance related to the carpooling should be arranged previously.

How much does carpooling cost?

Normally, the cost of a private vehicle for carpooling is half the price of a taxi for the same distance. Passengers can therefore calculate the fee with reference to the taxi fee and divide it by the number of the passengers.

The goal of Beijing’s legalisation of carpooling is to ease traffic congestion and conserve energy. Since the new regulation may enable black cars to earn more unjust profits, the challenge ahead for Beijing, the first city legalising carpooling, is for the government to enforce strict laws and distinguish legal carpooling from black cars.

  1. Beijing chutai zhidao yijian guifan xiao keche he cheng xingwei,, accessed 18 February, 2014 []

Chi-Han Ai

Ph.D. candidate of EHESS ( École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris) focusing on regional economic development in China and Taiwan.

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Who moved China’s bicycle?

The China Watch. Who moved China’s bicycle? December 26, 2011. Retrieved 30 January, 2014, from

Source : 网易新闻. 《看客》 第22期:谁动了中国的自行车. October 5, 2010. Retrieved 30 January, 2014, from

Bicycle has been the most familiar “stranger” for China and Chinese people, from “bicycle kingdom” known to foreigners to often hit foreign headlines because of cars made a traffic jam, from be proud of a bike to hot debate for returning bicycle. Who moved Chinese bicycle after 61 years of statehood, as increasing economic development, forward city plan and boom desire of people.

Read full story on The China Watch

Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Sustainable development and local officers’ promotion

Last year, the National Bureau of Economic Research published an interesting working paper1 on the possible correlation between local government officials’ promotion and environmental policies.

Since environment has become a key issue on China’s national agenda, this question needs to be addressed as a priority at the local government level. However, it seems that local officials who are most active in environmental issues are not the ones who are most promoted.

In this paper, the authors2 introduce the merit-based promotion system of Chinese officials and its expected effects on inter-provincial competition. They also point out that China’s fiscal system heavily relies on local governments to finance social welfare and the construction of infrastructure.

According to the authors, local officials are keen to develop the territories they are in charge of, by investing in transport and obtaining high GDP rates, so they can be promoted more quickly.

This paper also highlights the correlation between the improvement of transport infrastructures and land prices, and the impact of land prices on local officials’ career.

The research shows that improving environmental standards has no impact on the careers of local government officials. Achieving strong economic growth still remains the main priority for local officials who wish to get a promotion.

The authors suggest a reform of China’s merit-based system by including the environmental dimension in the officers’ promotion process.

  1. Wu, J. et al (2013, February). Incentives and outcomes: China’s environmental policy. NBeR Working paper Seies  18403. National Bureau of Economic Research. Retrieved 26 January, 2014 from []
  2. Wu Jing, Deng Yongheng, Huang Jun, Morck Randall and Yeung Bernard []

Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE - Nottingham Trent University)

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Last of the bicycles?

Last of the bicycles?, Elosua Miguel

The increase of purchase capacity of urban residents has led to a massive increase in the number of cars in circulation within Chinese cities. The once ubiquitous bicycle yields to the (theoretically) more convenient car. In the space of seven years, the number of registered cars in the city of Beijing doubled, surpassing 5 million in 2011.1 By July 2012 there were about 72 million registered cars on the mainland, from just 10 million in 2003.2 At the same time, the city has greatly expanded. Its area spreads over 17,000 square kilometres (almost three times the size of Shanghai). However, although the city has experienced a distinct suburbanisation of the population, more than 60% of the total population lives in 8% of its total area, that is, in Central Beijing (within the third ring). Public transport has expanded in the same fashion. Of the total fifteen existing lines, thirteen were added to the network in the last ten years.

However, the quest for convenience and sustainability might mean the resurgence of bicycles. Commuting time and pollution has greatly increased and the government has started restricting car use to tackle pollution. Some residents might begin to consider it a good idea to dust off their old bicycle. Unlike some European cities, there is no need for added construction in China, since most of the main roads have dedicated bicycle lanes and most cities are flat like a pancake (this is not the case of Chongqing certainly, which is the reason why the motorbike industry developed rapidly there). Likewise, some cities have launched bike share schemes. In 2013, the Beijing municipal government funded a bike share with 14,000 bicycles distributed across 520 stations. According to the website, the program has not been very successful so far, with less than one rental a day per bicycle. It attributes part of this failure to the inconvenient location of the stations. Likewise, it reveals a change on the perception of bicycles. Owning a bike was a luxury just thirty years ago, but it became an undesirable, “common” means of transport. Car ownership is still a status symbol for many. The bigger the better, a philosophy which appears all over the world. Perhaps circumstances will make residents reconsider the bike as synonymous of convenience and simplicity, the ultimate sophistication according to Leonardo da Vinci. No doubt there would then be plenty of sophisticated riders commuting by bike and, consequently, air quality would be greatly improved.

Cycle rickshaw, Elosua MiguelCycle rickshaw in Wenchuan, Sichuan. Photo taken in March 2013.






  1. Source URL:, accessed on 15 January 2014. []
  2. Source URL:, accessed 15 January 2014. []

Miguel Elosua

Spanish qualified lawyer; PhD in Chinese Law. UrbaChina Research Officer. Has lived in China since 2006.

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Green way to Norway

Norway has taken the lead in terms of electric car ownership. This autumn, the best selling cars in this Nordic country were the US’ Tesla Model S and the Nissan Green Leaf. As a result, Norway has the largest market penetration of electric cars in the world.

Electric cars are usually a lot more expensive than regular cars. This is not the case in Norway. In fact, purchasing a conventionally powered car is surprisingly high in Norway, even when taking into consideration the high income of the local population. Consumers need to pay several taxes based on the car’s weight and oil consumption, which can double the initial car price. However, if they choose an electric car, they are exempt from VAT and other taxes. This makes electric cars more attractive and rather competitive.

Moreover, even though Norway is one of the top twenty oil-producing countries, taxes on petrol prices are still very high.

The government is encouraging the population to acquire electric cars not only by using financial incentives but also by making electric car drivers’ life much easier.  Thus, electric car drivers enjoy such privileges as free parking or the right to use bus lanes.

Can this trend be exported to other countries, to China in particular?

There is a paradox in the introduction of electric cars in Norway.  If the government is able to subsidise the electric vehicle market so heavily, it is mainly thanks to its revenue from oil. There are very few countries that could finance these policies. Furthermore, in most Norwegian households, electric cars are used as second cars. Norwegians can therefore afford to own two cars, which is not the case for the Chinese.

Electric cars will remain a “luxury good” for the next few years, but the Norwegian example will convince car makers that there is a demand for electric cars. As the market grows, prices will decrease, expediting electric car ownership. Then maybe by 2030, petrol stations will be replaced by power stations… Hopefully, renewable energy will also replace coal as China’s main source of energy by this time.

Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE - Nottingham Trent University)

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