The building of expressways is seen as key to accelerating infrastructure construction. By the end of 2005, the total length of highways open to traffic reached 1.93 million km, including 41,000 km of expressways up to advanced modern transportation standard, ranking second in the world. With the five vertical and seven horizontal arterial highways, totaling 35,000 km, China's national highways skeleton system will be completed in 2008. At that time, Beijing, Shanghai and all municipalities and provincial capitals will be connected with highways, chiefly expressways. The cities connected in the network will be over 200.
The aim of the National Expressway Network Plan approved by the State Council in early 2005 is an expressway system connecting all provincial capitals with Beijing and with each other, linking major cities and important counties. The network will have a total length of about 85,000 km, including seven originating in Beijing; the Beijing-Shanghai, Beijing-Taipei, Beijing-Hongkong-Macao, Beijing-Kunming, Beijing-Lhasa, Beijing-Urumchi, and Beijing-Harbin expressways. By 2010, China will have built additional 24,000-km expressways, and the skeleton of the network will have taken shape.