Speech by Weng Mengyong, vice minister of Communications

December 18, 2007

Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends from the media:

Good morning!

As the New Year is approaching, I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to the friends from the media for your consistent care and support for the development of transport industry.

Today, I am honored to announce that with the unremitting efforts over the past 15 years, in particular the rapid construction in the 10th and 11th five-year-plan periods, the national trunk roads extending 35,000 km with five North-South lines and seven East-West lines will almost be in place by the end of 2007, attaining the goal of the current government administration.

Now I would like to make a brief introduction to the National Trunk Road Plan of Five North-South and Seven East-West Lines, NTRP for short.

The National Trunk Road Plan of Five North-South and Seven East-West Lines was started in the 1980s. With the implementation of the policy of reform and opening up and social and economic development, the demand for transport service has surged leading to serious traffic jam on most trunk roads and urban access and port congestion in coastal areas. In the face of the worsened “bottleneck” constraints of transport infrastructure on national economic development, the Ministry of Communications developed the Plan of Five North-South Lines and Seven East-West Lines (inclusive of branches) at the end of 1980s, which was approved by the State Council in 1992 and launched in 1993.

The Plan is composed of five North-South lines and seven East-West lines.

The Five North-South Lines are: Tongjiang-Sanya, Beijing-Fuzhou, Beijng-Zhuhai, Erlianhaote-Hekou, Chongqing-Zhanjiang.

The Seven East-West Lines are: Suifenhe-Manzhouli, Dandong-Lhasa, Qingdao-Yinchuan, Lianyungang-Horgos, Shanghai-Chengdu, Shanghai-Ruili, Hengyang-Kunming.

All these 12 lines are all highways of Class II and above, among which the expressways account for 76 percent, Class I highways about 4.5 percent and Class II highways 19.5 percent. These national trunk lines connect the Capital City of Beijing, all provincial capital cities, administrative cities, special economic zones, major transport hubs and major ports open to foreign trade, covering all the mega-cities with a population of over 1 million and 93 percent of the large cities with a population of over 500,000. The national trunk lines are of national significance in terms of politics, economy and national defense.

With the leadership of the Central Committee of CPC and the State Council, the generous support of relevant ministries of the State Council and local CPC Committees and governments as well as the concerted efforts of the transport staff of the whole country, the construction of national trunk roads has progressed smoothly. The construction of national trunk roads has undergone four main stages, namely, the initial construction stage before the publication of the plan, the full-scale construction stage after its publication, the accelerated construction stage since 1998 and the closing stage since 2003. During the course of construction, all transport staff, under the guidance of scientific concept of development, enhanced quality, safety and environment protection management across-the-board, overcame geological, climate and funding difficulties and achieved the goal of the Plan with firm resolve and in an innovative manner. The construction of national trunk roads of five North-South and seven East-West Lines provided experience and laid a solid foundation for the construction of transport infrastructure like expressways, rural roads, sea ports and inland waterways.

In order to further improve transport capacity of trunk roads, enhance the quality of transport service and respond to the rapid national economic development and the demands for safe and convenient travel, the Ministry of Communications drafted and submitted the National Expressway Network Plan, which was approved by the State Council at the end of 2004. The Plan was also known in short as “7918 Network” with 34 lines extending 85,000 km, covering the above-mentioned 12 lines and connecting all cities with a population of 200,000, tourist cities of national 4A accreditation. These lines are all expressways in terms of technical standards.

The planning and construction of national trunk roads of five North-South lines and seven East-West lines has basically formed the national road framework across different regions and provinces stringing together north and south, east and west as well as the Capital City of Beijing, and in this sense the National Expressway Network has begun to take shape. The national trunk roads, provincial roads, county and township roads and rural roads have constituted the current highway network laying a solid foundation for national social and economic development. National trunk roads have promoted social and economic development in the following aspects:

First, they have supported economic development, optimized transport distribution and service, improved the efficiency of production factors and pushed forward the structural upgrading of the industry and its optimization of spatial layout.

Secondly, they have promoted social progress, improved people's living standards, driven the urbanization process and facilitated the balanced development of regional economy.

Thirdly, they have improved public service, enhanced the reliability and safety of transport and strengthened government's capacity to respond to emergencies and serve the public.

Fourthly, they have contributed to sustainable development, increased transport efficiency and performance, backed the development of the integrated transport system, reduced energy consumption and strengthened environmental protection.

Although the national trunk roads consisting of five North-South lines and seven East-West lines have been put in place, we are still faced with the arduous task of implementing the National Expressway Network Plan. With the sound leadership of the Central Committee of CPC and the State Council, the support of governments at all levels and concerted efforts of all transport staff, we are fully convinced that the National Expressway Network Plan will make steady headways and play an even more important role in improving the travel conditions and life quality of the public. In the near future, Chinese people will enjoy more convenient, comfortable and safer transport service!

Now my colleagues and I would like to take questions from the floor.