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Article|McKinsey Quarterly

Chinese infrastructure: The big picture

China leads the world in infrastructure investment. Explore today’s impressive reality, and see what the future holds, in this by-the-numbers summary.

June 2013 | byYougang Chen, Stefan Matzinger, and Jonathan Woetzel

Infrastructure development remains a top priority for China’s government, which has long recognized that a modern economy runs on reliable roads and rails, electricity, and telecommunications. From the late 1990s to 2005, 100 million Chinese benefited from power and telecommunications upgrades. Between 2001 and 2004, investment in rural roads grew by a massive 51 percent annually. And in recent years, the government has used substantial infrastructure spending to hedge against flagging economic growth.

China’s leadership has charted equally ambitious plans for the future. Its goal is to bring the entire nation’s urban infrastructure up to the level of infrastructure in a middle-income country, while using increasingly efficient transport logistics to tie the country together. What follows is a by-the-numbers portrait of this dynamic sector.

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About the authors

Yougang Chen is a principal in McKinsey’s Hong Kong office, where Stefan Matzinger is a director; Jonathan Woetzel is a director in the Shanghai office.

The authors would like to acknowledge the contributions of Priyanka Kamra and Lu Wang to the development of this article.

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