15 October 2019

Beijing's New Airport Opens, Other Major Infrastructure Projects Underway

Beijing's new Daxing International Airport opened recently. It is one of the biggest infrastructure projects that China completed in 2019, but there are many others that are currently under construction.

The airport is located around 50 km south of central Beijing, and it is expected to help the Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei (also called Jing-jin-ji) grow. The new airport is around 80 km from Tianjin Municipality, and a little less than 200 km away from Shijiazhuang, which is the capital of Hebei Province.

Daxing International Airport will help Beijing Capital International Airport to cope with rising flight volumes, and also spur growth in areas that are near the Chinese capital. It is shaped like a phoenix and has been showered with praise from the Chinese government.

Building China's Future

President Xi Jinping has used Daxing International Airport as an example of China's growing technological prowess. The project was completed in just five years, and Xi feels that the project shows the advantages of China's socialist system, as it demonstrates how quickly resources can be mobilized for the common good.

The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, announced by Xi less than a year ago, also shows how far Chinese engineering has come in recent years. The structure is the largest cross-sea bridge, and it opened in October of last year. It was designed to connect mainland China with the two Special Administrate Regions (SARs-Hong Kong and Macau), and cost 126.9 billion yuan (around $18 billion USD) to construct.

Much like Daxing International Airport, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge is intended to facilitate regional growth between the two SARs, and mainland China. Xi was happy to praise the builders of the bridge for overcoming obstacles and showing the national strength of China.

United in Progress

China is using mega-projects to demonstrate its commitment to creating a unified China, and connecting regions that have traditionally been less interconnected. The projects also further Xi's goal of driving Chinese technical innovation, and developing the core technologies for sustained development.

Sunway TaihuLight is an example of this philosophy. It is China's fastest supercomputer, and its components are all made in China. The Tianhe series and Sunway TaihuLight show that China has come into its own as a high-end chip manufacturer, and the nation plans to work to further the use of its supercomputers in scientific research.

Li Qiong, who is a researcher with the National University of Defense Technology, commented, "We are developing the Tianhe E-Class computer, or an exascale supercomputer, which will be able to perform billions of calculations per second.” The Tianhe-3, the nation's next-generation exascale supercomputer, will run on domestically-produced chips as well.

Chinese supercomputers ranked favorably in a semiannual list of the Top 500 supercomputers which was published earlier in 2019.

"The supercomputer has become a symbol of power, reflecting the innovative capabilities of China. Next, we will connect these supercomputing centers and share the resources nationwide," added Mei Jianping, who is deputy director-general of the Department of High and New Technology of the Ministry of Science and Technology.

Making Connections Globally

China is using its technological progress to collaborate with other nations, and challenge itself to reach new goals. China recently successfully performed the first-ever soft landing of a spacecraft on the dark side of the moon. The Chang'e-4 was able to complete the soft landing with the help of numerous international organizations, and foreign nations.

The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST), which is located in China's Guizhou Province, is scanning the heavens for neutral hydrogen, pulsars, interstellar molecules as well as signals from the extraterrestrial life. China has teamed up with South Africa' Meerkat telescope to work on important questions about the evolution and origin of our universe.

Wu Xiangping, who is an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, commented, "We already had close cooperation with Australia in jointly organizing symposiums and training classes. The exchanges between China and South Africa have just started...We will step up cooperation with South Africa, and the priority will be finding common interests."

Wu continued, "For instance, the study of neutral hydrogen might be a possible direction for joint research. Understanding neutral hydrogen, the first element formed after the Big Bang and the most abundant element in the universe, might help us trace the origin of the universe and study the large scale structure of the cosmos."

China has made incredible strides in the areas of infrastructure and technological innovation in the last decade, and the fruits of those efforts are beginning to sprout. China may become one of the world's most advanced nations over the next 20 years, as it continues to develop new projects that rank globally in both scale and sophistication.