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Look on These Works and Despair

August 14th, 2012

This article from the BBC reminds me of Shelley’s poem:

“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

From the article:

As growth slows, China’s huge investment in infrastructure is looking ever harder to sustain, leaving a string of ambitious projects – towns, shopping malls and even a theme park – empty and forlorn.

“We have spoken a lot about these ghost towns in Ireland and Spain recently [but China] is Ireland and Spain on steroids,” says Kevin Doran, a senior investment fund manager at Brown Shipley in the UK.

Investment in infrastructure accounts for much of China’s GDP – the country is said to have built the equivalent of Rome every two months in the past decade. And with such a large pool of labour, it is harder to put the brakes on when growth slows and supply outstrips demand.

“You have got seven to eight million people entering the workforce in China every single year, so you have to give them something to do in order to retain the legitimacy of the government,” Doran told the BBC World Service.

“Maybe 10 or 15 years ago they were doing things that made sense – roads, rail, power stations etc – but they have now got to the point where it’s investment for investment’s sake.”

“In Chenggong, there are more than 100,000 new apartments with no occupants,” according to the World Bank’s Holly Krambeck.

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