Brown is especially interested in studying China's extensive high-speed rail system and use it as a way to promote his own plan, which has come under intense criticism and has been losing public support as its projected cost has soared. The governor is scheduled to ride part of China's rail system from Beijing to Shanghai, accompanied by the chairman of California's high-speed rail board, Dan Richard.

China has the world's longest high-speed rail system, covering 5,800 miles, and has tried to turn it into a showcase. But the system also has faced problems: Part of a line collapsed in central China after heavy rains and a crash in 2011 killed 40 people. The former railway minister, who spearheaded the bullet train's construction, and the ministry's chief engineer, were detained in a corruption investigation.

Brown said he likes "the exuberance" with which Chinese officials approached building high-speed rail and would welcome investment in the California system or any other infrastructure projects in the state.

Despite the governor's enthusiasm, it's not clear how applicable the Chinese system is to a major infrastructure project in the U.S. The Chinese high-speed rail network benefits from heavy government financing and faces few of the environmental and legal hurdles in California. The land needed to build the Chinese system is often forcibly procured at below market prices.

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Associated Press writer Charles Hutzler in Beijing contributed to this report.

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