Transport and infrastructure in China

Our listing of the primary kinds of transport compares the infrastructure of China with the average of all countries in Asia. The main traffic and transport routes are in good condition, but do not reach the level of the leading industrial nations.

In terms of the length of its rail network, China ranks 110th in the world with 0.05 meters per inhabitant. In total, the rail network is 68,141 kilometers long. Freight traffic on the rails most recently totaled 2,882.10 billion tons and kilometers traveled. Passenger traffic reached 1,345.69 billion passenger-kilometers in 2017.

The waterways listed refer to inland traffic on rivers and canals. The number of ports includes those located on the total 14,500 km of coastline. In 2020, about 245.10 million freight containers were transported.

Airports in China

Back to overview: China

Road traffic

The network of roads and highways has a total length of 4.96 million km. For each of the country's 1.41 billion inhabitants, this corresponds to 3.51 meters. This puts China in 133rd place in the global ranking. However, the country's size and population density of around 148 inhabitants per km² must also be taken into account. Countries with fewer inhabitants on the same or even larger area naturally achieve quite different values here and have to connect remote areas to the transport network despite a smaller population.

With an average of 256565 traffic fatalities per year (2012 - 2019), road traffic in China is considered rather mixed. This corresponds to around 4.3 accident fatalities per 18.5 inhabitants per year. By comparison, this figure is 12.2 in the USA and 17.1 worldwide.

In China, traffic drives on the right-hand side of the road, i.e. people drive in the right-hand lane and overtake on the left. Oncoming traffic comes toward you on the left side. This regulation was enforced on July 13th, 1946. Regionally, this also applied before, now it exists for all parts of the country. Here you can also find an overview of all countries with left-hand traffic.



 totalper 1 mio
per km²
Roadways4,960,600 km3,512.28 km518.73 m
Railroads68,100 km48.25 km7.13 m
Waterways110,000 km77.88 km11.50 m
Commercial harbors6,6624.720.001


 total per 1 mio
per km²
Roadways14,699,500 km3,162.10 km459.66 m
Railroads280,000 km60.24 km8.76 m
Waterways260,300 km55.99 km8.14 m
Commercial harbors46,0549.910.001

Data sources used

Global Health Observatory Data Repository (World Health Organization)
Internation Union of Railways (UIC)
CIA Factbook
OECD Statistics
Wikipedia (german)
China: AirportsLargest airports and airlines in ChinaThe 30 biggest airports and 20 airlines in China with further information and data
China: ClimateClimate and temperature development in ChinaA climate analysis for China incl. temperatures, humidity, rain days per month, hours of sunshine, Water temperature, Rainfalls
Ranking: MegacitiesMega cities - the biggest cities all over the worldRanking of the biggest cities worldwide. On top: Shanghai, Chongqing and Beijing