CHINA: The New Empire Builders

"If railways could be built in Sinkiang, Manchuria, Tibet and Mongolia, and if all these railways could be linked into one system," said Sun Yat-sen long ago, "then China's people would have cheap food to eat." Red China and the Soviet Union are now building Sun Yat-sen's railroads, with a notably different purpose. They mean, by 1957, to bring Communist power by rail into Asia's heartland, to forge new steel bands across the world's greatest continent and to consolidate their grand alliance.

By Western standards, China has never been a railroad nation. Its peak total mileage never exceeded 16,700—against the U.S.'s...

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