Hebei province has played an important role in the development of China’s transportation network for more than a century. In 1878, Li Hongzhang, a prominent prime minister in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), started the Kaiping Coal Mine in Tangshan and organized construction of a railway to Xugezhuang, the first standard gauge railway in Chinese history.
Li, a leader of China’s “Self-strengthening Movement” — a bid to learn from the Western powers by building modern industries and reforming institutions — also organized the manufacture of the first steam locomotive in China.
In 1898, Qinhuangdao Coal Terminal was established and the Qing government approved Qinhuangdao as a trading port, China’s earliest and largest energy transportation port.
In 1889, Zhang Zhidong, a celebrated Qing Dynasty general and a representative of those who favored Westernization, suggested building the Jing-Han Railway (Beijing-Hankou), the first trunk railway in China, the first section of which was built in Hebei province.
In addition, the Jing-Zhang Railway (Beijing-Zhangjiakou), which is the first railway built by the Chinese themselves, was started in 1905.
Hebei’s strategic location gives it an important position in China’s transportation layout. Hebei province surrounds Beijing and Tianjin, so many railway lines and freeways must pass through the province, including railways of Jing-Guang (Beijing to Guangzhou), Jing-Hu (Beijing to Shanghai), Jing-Ha (Beijing to Harbin), Jing-Bao (Beijing to Baotou), Jing-Jiu (Beijing to Kowloon) and freeways of Jing-Shen (Beijing to Shenyang), Jing- Jin- Tang (Beijing, Tianjin to Tanggu), Jing- Zhu (Beijing to Zhuhai), Jing- Hu (Beijing to Shanghai), Jing- Zhang (Beijing-Zhangjiakou), Bao- Jin (Baoding to Tianjin).
The modes of transport in the province run the full range from highways, railroads, sea, river and air.
In recent years, the traffic of Hebei province has made considerable progress. By the end of 2004, the total highway mileage reached 70,200 km in the province and the port handling capacity reached 213 million tons. The province has 53 local shipping fleets with a combined 3.42 million dwt, ranking first among the other local fleets in China.