James Fallows sums up the hysteria about China's rise in this mock quote: "I just rode the bullet train to Tianjin, and holy shit, we're doomed!"
China's high-speed rail network symbolises some of what is changing in China: it is world-class technology being rolled out at break-neck speed. But there's a dark side: safety and engineering standards may not be up to snuff, Chinese domestic firms have 'borrowed' liberally from European and Japanese train technology, and the economics of the whole scheme is under question.
Regular readers will recall we ran a three-partseries in March by University of Adelaide academic Roger Irvine on the explosive growth of China's high speed rail network. Check out part three in particular for some sober reminders of the risks China is taking with high-speed rail, and some hints that the program may not be as successful as its boosters believe.
Much has been made of the fact that the Chinese and American presidents are meeting in informal surroundings on Friday at the Sunnylands retreat, the former estate of Walter Annenberg in Rancho Mirage, California. Protocol will be kept to a minimum and the presidents will meet in short-sleeved shirts.