How did China manage to construct a vastly superior infrastructure despite having a per capita GDP similar to third-world countries?
Robin Daverman, World traveler
Others have already talked about the government support and the financial capital. I want to mention one more thing - the Chinese construction engineers and workers are some serious maniacs! In most developed countries, construction starts with people driving heavy equipment, clear out the land, build the road, dig the ditches, etc. In China, a lot of those are build by people doing rock-climbing/wire-walking. Like this.
You see, the Chinese has a history of asking the impossible from their construction engineers, like this photo which was taken back in 1970.
OK fine. That’s what the railroad looked like after it’s built.
译文来源：三泰虎 http://www.santaihu.com/46820.html 译者：Joyceliu
People tend to think only of Beijing or Shanghai when they think about China, but actually, 85% of China are mountainous. Like this.
Sometimes there are good, fertile farmland up on top of the mountains. You just have to climb up. So the Chinese kids have been climbing up and down the mountains for a couple thousands of years. Like this 800 meter cliff hike or this 125 mile hike alone the cliffs near an icy river
or a four-hour climb over the slippery rock surface
or a five-hour journey across a 1-foot wide loose rock path
To go to school. They do this by the time they are five or six years old.
Ben Bradfield, Living in China for 5 years
I’ll play the Devil’s Advocate on this one and offer an opposing view that I believe has some hard factual elements, but may not be the one everyone wants to hear
What China has that third-world countries don’t have, GDP per capita aside, is an gigantic army of cheap labor. Labor is and always has been China’s fundamental factor that allows everything to be produced and sold at a much cheaper price than elsewhere. Despite all the talk you hear about China upgrading capacity, revolutionizing its economy, etc., what you be sure of is that the transformation will continue to be highly dependent on cheap labor, both skilled and unskilled. Infrastructure and construction in general is very labor-intensive, so it makes sense that China is able to make gains in this area much more quickly and efficiently than those found in other places.