Sep 212016

At last, after an unusually warm first two weeks of September, the cool autumn morning breeze has arrived to Beijing. Day temperatures are comfortable, but at night the mercury drops enough to enable a good night’s sleep without the disturbing noise from air conditioners.

We are still a few months away from the freezing dry cold winter of Beijing. From now until then end of November the cold dry air from Siberia will be arm wrestling with the warm humid air from the south. Siberia always wins, but the South is in for a good fight.

On the political arena we see the same arm wrestling between the enlightened reformers in Beijing and the vested interests around the country as well as resistance to change from further down in the administrative circles in Beijing. When international media reports on contradictory policies or measures coming out of Beijing they are often the result of backward forces temporarily winning the power struggle.

From this perspective the recently held G20 meeting in Hangzhou with China as the host was very significant. China came out at the meeting committing to working together with the other 19 states for a more sustainable future and to reignite growth of the world economy. President Xi Jinping also sent a clear signal that China wants to be a constructive participant in international organizations shaping the global order.

That signal seems to have been picked up by the new head of the Ministry of Transports Research Institute of Highways (RIOH), Mr Li Aimin and the good news, from an IFRTT perspective, is that RIOH has decided to send two delegates to the HVTT14 and will present two papers there.

RIOH was also very keen to host the next HVTT, but after some discussions they agreed that it will be better to participate in New Zealand first to learn more about our organization and then possible at the HVTT15 in Rotterdam make a bid to host the HVTT16 in China.

One of the papers that they will present in Rotorua will be about the new masses and dimensions standard for commercial vehicles (the so called GB1589), which came into force on July 26th this summer. Several cross ministerial joint communications have since been published committing to strict enforcement of the new standard and citing heavy fines for violations.

Although there will be friction over the transition from the old standard into the new one there is now wide public awareness of the cost to society of poor enforcement of overloading, over-width and over-length restrictions. Media is increasingly reporting on accidents caused by unsafe heavy duty trucks, which means that the general public is adding to the pressure on the government to get things right this time!

For the transport industry the new standard means that a huge number of non-conforming vehicles need to be scrapped and replaced by new vehicles that are within the limits of the revised rules. This will not only be a driver of new hardware business, but also of innovation in order to maximize the payload within the legal gross vehicle weight boundaries. We can also expect serious consolidation and restructuring of the Chinese transport industry where the non-serious players will be forced to leave the business and the remaining companies will be competing on a much more level playing field than ever before.

With these changes come huge opportunities, but at the same time challenges for the Chinese government. Therefore the presence of Chinese representatives at the HVTT14 is of great significance. I have promoted the IFRTT as one of the best networks available for experience and knowledge sharing in the field of efficient and sustainable road transports. This is exactly what China is in need of at this point in time. It will hence be incredibly interesting to follow the Chinese journey, to support it and to learn from their experience of undertaking this (and I am not using too big words now) revolution of one of the largest road transport systems in the world.

I very much look forward to meeting you all together with our Chinese colleagues in Rotorua!

Mats Harborn

IFRTT Vice-President for Asia


September 20th

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