World Net Daily quoted Patrick Chovanec, an expatriate and business teacher at Tsinghua University in Beijing, saying, “Who wants to be the mayor who reports that he didn’t get 8 percent GDP growth this year? Nobody wants to come forward with that. Therefore, the incentives in the system are to build. And if that’s the easiest way to achieve growth, then you build.”
What Mr. Chovanec is referring to is China building empty cities by the dozens then connecting them with expressways.
Although Mr. Chovanec has an impressive resume, I’m sure China’s leaders did not confide in him, which explains why he may be wrong.
In fact, what World Net Daily doesn’t mention is in the last thirty years China had the largest migration in recorded history of almost 300 million people moving from rural to urban China as it became an export nation resulting in the expansion of China’s urban industries.
The People’s Daily wrote in 2003, China was encouraging the migration of between 300 to 500 million people from rural areas to towns and cities by 2020, a transformation that Beijing hopes will help drive growth but which will also fundamentally alter the economy of the world’s most populous nation.
“A country where most of the population is in poor or remote villages will not be a modern and developed nation,” said Wang Mengkui, minister at the State Council’s Development Research Centre. “Our urbanization rate [of 39 per cent now is equivalent only to that of the UK in the 1850s, that of the US in 1911 and that of Japan in 1950."
Wang Mengkui says, "I think our urbanization rate should reach 55-60 per cent of the population by 2020."
Where do Mr. Chovanec and World Net Daily think China is going to house all those people as they move from rural to urban China?
Unlike democracies, where chaos, lobbyists and political agendas lead to mostly short-term decisions without planning for the future as in America’s case regarding the HUGE federal deficit and what I wrote about in India Falling Short, China’s leaders tend to plan long-term goals that benefit the most people.
China’s leaders have demonstrated for millennia (not just China’s Communist Party) that China’s collective culture often plans decades and centuries into the future, which explains the success of projects such as the Great Wall and the Grand Canal, which took centuries to complete.
This same long-term thinking led to modern, empty towns being built in Tibet years ago that are now filling with Tibetan nomads (I wrote of this in an earlier post) that suddenly found the grass they depended on to feed their herds gone due to global warming ending a lifestyle that had survived for centuries.
China’s leaders — being scientists and engineers instead of economists such as Mr. Chovanec — studied the potential future and planned for it, which is a benefit of being an autocratic one-party republic instead of a chaotic democracy that depends on short-term goals and quarterly profits to guide the decisions of accountants and lawyers.
What China is doing by building these empty cities, roads and railways is getting ready for the future.
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
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