Beijing’s most reliable strategy for moving beyond the Covid-19 crisis and America’s trade and technology war is infrastructure investment. Specifically, over the short to long term, construction of railways to link the nation’s people and lift productivity is seen as a sure-fire way to ensure sustained growth and development. A blueprint unveiled last week by the state railway builder revealed an ambitious plan to continue a spending boom to increase the length of lines by more than 40 per cent for at least another 15 years. It makes sense; apart from creating jobs, the scheme would help expand urban hubs, promote regional economic activity and further tourism. The blueprint looks to 2035, when President Xi Jinping wants China to be a “modern socialist country”. An additional 200,000km (124,274 miles) of track would be built, around 70,000km of it high-speed. The plan aims to link towns of at least 200,000 people to the railway network and give cities of 500,000 and more access to high-speed trains. Even the remotest parts of the nation are to be connected. There is no certainty that a vaccine to vanquish the coronavirus will be developed. Nor, regardless of whether United States President Donald Trump is re-elected in November, does it seem likely there will be a let-up in tensions with Washington. Exports, property and infrastructure have been the nation’s three pillars of growth, but given the pressures and uncertainty, only the latter can be counted on. In such circumstances, railway construction makes good sense. Unemployment in July remained at 5.7 per cent and growth in gross domestic product, although at 3.2 per cent in the second quarter and impressive compared to other nations, is markedly down and not expected to dramatically recover. Domestic consumption is not as strong as had been hoped, so industrial output and infrastructure construction offer the best way forward. Railways enable people to move more easily and can open untapped parts of the country for development. China is able to build railways for markedly less than other countries. But high-speed rail is expensive and reliant on debt financing. The burden needs to be carefully assessed, although it is worth bearing as, over time, there will be substantial benefits.