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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Ghost Cities in China

It's interesting to see how China, which has been a disgrace to communism in so many ways in the past 60 years, has found a new way to do so, and by using capitalistic methods.

There's a case for saying that the many accounts in the media speaking of "Chinese ghost towns" are misusing the language once again, and that instead, they should always say "Chinese ghost cities." because these things are not towns at all.  They are bonafide cities -- if we can refer to them as being true cities, when they have an occupancy rate of only about 30 percent and in most cases much less -- built to house many millions of people,   Ugly cities, but cities nevertheless, featuring a great many skyscratchers that look like they would bring about a great many deaths of the soul if all those apartments and offices were occupied.

The Chinese must have an incredibly efficient and huge construction industry, because all these nearly empty cities were thrown up in just the last few years, and there is also obviously a great deal of money tied up in them  -- so much that we are told that these cities are a real threat to the world economy.   As nearly as I can make out with my admittedly stunted economic mind, the reason is that a lot of the world's metal supply is tied up in these cities, and this has had a bad effect on the metal industries in other countries and that has affected the global economy and so forth and so on.

 It is all a part of how everything on the planet is tied together and not only in human affairs -- a principle that I first ran into many years ago in a very interesting little 1941 paperback about the weather called "Storm," by George R. Stewart, in which he gives a saying that goes along the lines of, "A Chinese man sneezing in Peking can cause a hurricane in California," or some such.  I can't quote it exactly, because like all my paperback treasures of the 1940's and '50's -- all that I could afford in the way of books in those days --  the pages, though still intact, are badly yellowed and dry with age, and they would start falling apart if I looked for anything in them.

The reason that all these freshly thrown-up cities in China are sitting there with just a few tenants so far is because of the usual economic demons that you see in capitalistic societies: speculators, developers gone wild, berserk bankers, and all the rest, and these edifices are too expensive for the middle class that was expected to move into them.

I would expect that, wherever they are living now, those middle class people will eventually move into those buildings, though only at some financial cost to somebody, hopefully not to a tie-dyer in Zanzibar.

But meanwhile what a great difference between the American ghost towns and the Chinese ghost cities!  The American towns were much smaller, always just a few buildings thrown up hurriedly on the wagon trails during the frenzied rush westward and soon deserted and just left there, without even a match being put to the ruins, and today some of them are still kept in reasonably good states of desertion, for the benefit of drivers-by.  As such the American ghost towns reach back farther and farther into the past, while the Chinese ghost cities reach a somewhat lesser distance ahead into an uncertain future, because among other things, where's all the water, the food, the fuel,the power, and all the other necessities of life going to come from when eventually these places are fully occupied?

All the same, just as I was always interested in ghost towns and ghost buildings during the several car trips that we took out west, I would very much like to walk around for a few minutes in one of these Chinese ghost cities.   I don't know why edifices without any other humans around appeal to me so much.

Here is an interesting article that, along with a lot of satellite photos of these cities, explains what's with these eerie places..


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