In 1934, the Communists lost the civil war in China and decided to retreat. This theft would later become a symbol of the party’s strategic vision. And if the Long March, made on foot, has become a symbol of the struggle in the past, today the country is expanding high-speed train lines to celebrate that the future has arrived.
By the mid-1930s, government troops surrounded the rebels in the border region between Jiangxi and Fujian provinces. Cornered, the Communists decide to flee. The retreat was hard: 80,000 people left, but only 8,000 made it to the end. Most died in combat, from hunger or disease.
The march left the south of the country, moved west and then headed north to Xiaxim. About 9,000 km were covered in one year. Along the way, Mao Tse-Tung, who would be the first Communist leader of China, consolidated himself as a leader and forged the image of the Great Helmsman, and the Chinese Communist Party sought to disseminate his ideas to the peasants. , changing the strategy of focusing on urban workers.
“The Long March was based on the old Chinese tradition of massive migrations, often caused by lack of food,” explains Osvaldo Coggiola, USP history professor and Marxist researcher. “The march was important to preserve the Communist Party as a political and military force inside.”
After the crossing, Mao’s fighters joined other rebel groups and prepared a new offensive. There was another enemy, however. Japan invaded China, and communists and nationalists united to confront the neighboring country, from 1937.
The Sino-Japanese war will last until 1945 and will be affected by the aftermath of World War II. The United States and the Soviet Union helped the Chinese because Japan was a common enemy. With the power to enlist soldiers, the Communists became one of the regiments of the national army and would reach the end of the conflict with more than 2 million armed men and parts of Chinese territory under their command.
After the surrender of Japan, Communists and Nationalists resumed the civil war, and the Communist Party won the conflict, seizing power in 1949. The experience of the Long March is perhaps still in the memory of the legendary leaders, who , in recent decades, have invested heavily in the expansion of roads and railways to facilitate transit across the country. This year, the national 1-2-3 travel cycle was launched, which set three objectives until 2035: up to an hour’s journey between home and work in an urban environment, two for journeys between interconnected municipalities and three for travel from one large metropolis to another.
At the same time, metro networks, medium-distance services and high-speed train services have developed. There are impressive numbers in all three. The Shanghai Metro, for example, began construction in the 1990s and has grown to become the longest in the world, at 743 km. In the first half of 2020 alone, China delivered 181 km of new metro and commuter train networks to the country, according to state data. For comparison, the São Paulo metro was inaugurated in 1974 and took 45 years to reach 101 km of network.
At the turn of the century, China did not have high speed trains. In 20 years, 37,500 km of lines have been built in the country, which today holds the world record for trains traveling at more than 200 km / h. The proposal is now to reach 70,000 km by 2035. Thus, all cities with more than 500,000 inhabitants will be connected to the system.
Over the past decade, the Chinese have also nearly doubled the road network, which reaches around 150,000 km. The objective, also for 2035, is to reach 460,000 km and another 5 million km of rural roads.
The rapid advance can be explained by several factors. The Chinese state is investing heavily in transportation, and there is little room to challenge expropriations and environmental licenses.
Logistics expansion serves several purposes, such as projecting an image of modernity, earning money abroad, increasing influence over other countries, and shortening distances in a vast country, home to 1.4 billion people. of people. The Beijing-Harbin line, for example, travels 1,700 km in five hours, on trains that reach 350 km / h. The distance is equivalent to going from Rio de Janeiro to Salvador.
Along with the dizzying increase in the rail network, there was an effort to create a strong national rail industry which currently exports to all continents. Chinese trains have been provided for the Chicago metro, high-speed lines in Austria, the Lahore metro in Pakistan, as well as CPTM and Supervia, which operate trains to the outskirts of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
China has focused train production on state-owned CRRC, which seeks to do business overseas with government assistance. The sale of trains is part of the Cinturão e Rota initiative, leader Xi Jinping’s most ambitious plan to expand Chinese influence abroad. In practice, Beijing provides financing to other countries to outsource transport works and technologies to companies in the Asian nation.
The move east created competition in the rail market, previously dominated by a few car manufacturers, and helped lower prices. “A few years ago, a passenger car on a train did not go for less than $ 2 million. Today it can be found for $ 1.5 million or less, ”explains Joubert Flores, chairman of the board of ANPTrilhos, which meets with companies that operate passenger trains in Brazil.
The trains can be assembled according to the desire of the customer, who can choose parts of more or less high quality. “The major manufacturers of motors, brakes, and more, operate in China, so it’s up to the buyer to choose the parts. Any case of poor quality products is the fault of a buyer who could not define the requirements, ”says Flores.
The expansion of Chinese exports generates complaints from competitors. “Under normal conditions, the Brazilian railway industry is competitive, but it is difficult to compete with a Chinese train brought in as a whole, which gains an incentive when it is exported and here enjoys tax exemptions than Brazilian factories. have not, “says Vicente Abate. , president of the Abifer (Brazilian Association of the Railway Industry). He specifies that the Brazilian assembly lines of freight cars are at 80% idle, and those of passengers at almost 100%.
In China, progress continues to accelerate. The country promises to advance in new technologies in the coming years, starting to use high-speed freight trains and carrying passengers at over 400 km / h. Trains that run without a driver are already in service and you can travel at 350 km / h without being driven by a coxswain.