President Bush's emphasis on maintaining strong and mutually beneficial U.S.-China economic relations and addressing economic challenges and opportunities between the two countries has presented RITA with an important supporting role within the Department of Transportation. As the Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED) between the two nations has turned to transportation-related topics, both RITA's Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) and the Volpe Center have assumed ongoing roles in support of these Cabinet-level discussions.
At the recent SED meeting in Annapolis, the two nations announced a Transportation Forum that will initially focus on Infrastructure Development and Innovative Finance, Transportation Technologies, and Supply Chain Logistics. The Volpe Center has been tasked with preparing an overarching study of these topics as they affect transportation and trade between the two nations. The study is being coordinated between the two nations, and is expected to be adopted at the next SED meeting in Beijing in December 2008. The study will frame the joint topics and enable the new Transportation Forum to set goals for improving transportation between China and the United States by identifying chokepoints and infrastructure needs to support the ever-expanding trade relationship. The continuing Forum will increase cooperation in aviation, maritime, and surface transportation while expanding existing infrastructure and trade development efforts by many of DOT's modal administrations.
At the same time, BTS is continuing work with the Ministry of Transport, Department of Planning, on sharing transportation data and statistics between the two nations under a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) it signed with China in 2004. The MOC has been revitalized over the past year in ways that hold promise for the program's potential impact. On April 18, 2008, RITA hosted a meeting at which RITA Administrator Paul Brubaker and Director General Dong Xuebo came to agreement on amendments to the MOC and on a 2008 Work Plan to develop joint data definitions and collection procedures for common transportation statistics between the United States and China. The delegations also discussed other topics of interest to China's Ministry of Transport, including Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), transportation technologies and information networks, the National Transportation Library, and logistics and supply chain management. The two sides will come together again to share results of this common work in January 2009 in Washington, DC.
In May, RITA coordinated a meeting on transportation technologies and training with visitors from the Chinese Academy of Transport Sciences (CATS), an academic arm of the Ministry of Transport. RITA's Office of Research, Development, and Technology provided updates on projects being conducted under RITA's Remote Sensing Program; the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Transportation Research Board (TRB) provided information on elements of their programs of interest to the CATS team. CATS has begun implementing lessons learned from RITA's Remote Sensing Program for emergency services management, such as managing traffic in response to earthquakes and avalanches. CATS is leading Chinese research into sustainable energy and transportation options for their rapidly growing systems and is confronting the problems of moving people and goods to and from rural China and the expanding urban and suburban areas. Further information exchanges on transportation science and technology to address these issues in transit, roads, and rail are expected in the future.