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China Fast Forward: The Technologies, Green Industries and Innovations Driving the Mainland's Future by Bill Dodson

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Chapter 4

Heavy Metal

Chinese authorities arrested Liu Zhijun on February 11, 2011 for “severe violation of discipline”—the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) code words for “corruption.”1 The 56-year-old Liu was found to have embezzled and accepted 187 million yuan (US$28.5 million) in bribes from the showcase Beijing-to-Shanghai portion of the high-speed railway project. Also, under Liu Zhijun’s tenure, the Ministry had racked up debts of RMB 1,980 billion ($307 billion).2 In contrast, the United States Congress in 2009 passed an economic stimulus package of nearly US$800 billion to stave off recession for the entire United States economy. Zhao Jian, a researcher at Beijing Jiaotong University, said that “the debt load had grown too large for the government to afford.”3 CCP minders replaced Liu Zhijun with Sheng Guangzu, 62, head of the general administration of customs. Hubris, corruption, and ineptitude would connive to create one of the worst train accidents in China’s history.

When high-speed bullet trains on China’s premiere Hangzhou-Wenzhou line collided at nearly 400-kilometers per hour five months after the arrest of Liu Zhijun,4 the nation’s grand plan to sell its own made-in-China bullet trains to other countries became as much a casualty as the dozens who lost their lives in the incident. The tragedy exposed the flaws of the country’s initiative of “indigenous innovation” to adopt the sophisticated technologies of other countries to adapt for use in domestic and export ...

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