On the China Policy Pod podcast, Josh Gartner interviews former Microsoft COO Bob Herbold about his controversial op-ed in The Wall Street Journal last month. The piece cited a number of fields in which Chinese decisiveness, according to Herbold, was winning out over American paralysis. China’s high-speed rail program was prominent among them:
The just-completed Beijing to Shanghai high-speed rail link, which takes less than five hours for the 800-mile trip, is the crown jewel of China’s current 5,000 miles of rail, set to grow to 10,000 miles in 2020. Compare that to decaying Amtrak.
Gartner asks Herbold whether he has revised his view in the wake of the Wenzhou train crash.
“Not at all. The fact is, you’re going to run into bumps as you try to come out of what was the incredible doldrums that China was in in the ’50s and ’60s and ’70s; that train wreck certainly was one. On the other hand, you’ve got to give the country credit for really pushing the frontiers of these areas, in terms of roads, in terms of trains, and the airports and the like. And they’re going to make mistakes, and they’re going to learn from them.
But the important thing is they’re doing things, and that’s what we’re not doing in the US, and that’s where the political system is letting America down. And it’s about time that the voters should be sick and tired of that, and I think they will be.”
Herbold sticks to his guns throughout, meeting the suggestion that corruption contributed to the Wenzhou crash with criticism of “pork” spending in the US. He describes China’s blocking of pornography online as “marvellous”, and argues that the US is also guilty of violating its citizens’ human rights by training them to be dependent on government handouts.