China Is Aiming to Become This Century’s Detroit for Electric Cars

China Is Aiming to Become This Century’s Detroit for Electric Cars
Visitors look at the Hanteng X7 on display at the Auto Shanghai 2017 show, Shanghai, China, April 20, 2017 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

As a candidate, President Donald Trump vowed to revitalize America’s infrastructure and promised $1 billion for transportation projects. But while Washington only tepidly contemplates such spending, China is rapidly moving ahead to transform transportation on its terms.

China’s leadership is codifying the next generation of transportation technologies into an ambitious national strategy and matching policy with billions for innovation and deployment. Recognizing that the sector is shifting toward low carbon options worldwide, Beijing is planning to uproot America’s competitive edge in the global market. Unless it is willing to cede the remaking of the transportation industry to China, the United States must invest more.

With continued economic development and urbanization, transportation needs in China—the world’s largest auto market, with 28 million vehicles sold last year—will only increase. As more Chinese citizens become wealthier, they will travel longer and more often. But the prospect of a rapid expansion of traditional automobiles and other vehicles with internal combustion engines unnerves a government already under extreme pressure to rein in pollution at home.

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