If China’s first urban planners had persevered, Peter Hessler’s road trip from east of Beijing to the Gobi Desert would have taken place on top of the Great Wall instead of alongside it. Never mind that the Great Wall is actually many walls and that it extends for more than 5,000 miles. Thinking big was both the curse and the blessing of 20th-century China, and that hasn’t changed in the 21st. The Great Wall road may never have materialized, but plenty of others are being carved through the countryside to accommodate what Hessler calls “the largest migration in human history,” with nearly one-tenth of the nation’s billion-plus people moving from rural areas to cities and factory zones. Despite its late entry into the car culture, China aims within the next decade to have more highway miles than the United States. And almost everybody on the road will be a rookie driver.
Red Highways (Book Review)
New York Times