by Alex Tabarrok
on May 27, 2012 at 10:02 pm
in Economics, Travels
Short video from blogger Sinostand of a bike ride in China with interesting material on religion, real estate bubbles and living standards.
Hat tip Walter Russell Mead’s blog via Daniel Lippman.
Interesting video, that grinding wheel was something you don’t see often.
I am really puzzled by Westerners who say they “love China.” Weird.
OK, if they are Chinese-Americans I can understand the nostalgia/ethnic ties–but otherwise?
Ethnicity and nostalgia are the only mechanisms leading to love?
This is not exclusive to China. You got a bunch of people who grew up in nice 1st world countries that suddenly ‘fall in love’ with whatever 3rd world country of choice. From what I can gather, this is just people getting bored and finding something that is different (i.e., worse) which probably triggers some kind of thrill seeking/endorphin induced passion.
For instance, I have lost count of the times I explained to Americans how dangerous Brazil is. It stopped very few of them from going anyway.
In lots of East Asia, I think part of it is that as a directionless, white foreigner, you can get a job teaching English that supports you okay enough while requiring little in the way of actual effort or responsibility, leaving plenty of time to spend on various leisure pursuits. Additionally, as an outsider you get to bypass a lot of the minor day-to-day hassles and social expectations that the locals have to put up with.
I’m puzzled when people say they love Texas, too. Pretty weird. But there you have it.
During the three years that I lived in the PRC, I came to “love” some of the Chinese people (platonicly), some customs and some aspects of the culture, so I can understand some reasons why another Westerner might say that he loves China. However, it seems to be the case that some Westerners are in the habit of throwing that out as a kind of qualifier for the predictable criticism that inevitably follows. That is, I think that when this guy says that he loves China he’s trying to establish some sense of personal authority to then slag on China/Chinese for not living up to his standards.
I do find it odd for someone to blog and create videos about the country despite appearing to have no familiarity with the language or people.
In his position it is difficult to avoid cliches and overgeneralizations. His sample size of experience does not lend itself well to good insight.
The corporate world is held to performance expectations because they need capital from investors. Countries are held to similar expectations but in terms of GDP growth. Because China is a Centrally planned economy, the government has the power to meet or at least try to meet growth estimates. With all the real estate development bubble occurring, China is focusing on short-term objectives instead of planning for the long-term health and well-being of the country.
The major problem with focusing on the short-term is that you fail to set yourself up for growth in the future. Poor policies are and will have disastrous effects on China and will perhaps delay it from being on the same level as the U.S. and Europe. These development flaws will likely develop a poor internal cash flow that will prevent China from being aggressive in the global market. The Chinese exchange rate, household savings, investment and trade are all affected by this development boom.
Hopefully the Chinese government has already thought through some of these potential issues and know more about the situation that we do. If not, then India will certainly take center stage in the global market as Europe continues to have member debt issues and U.S. as politics have created a moral hazard and adverse selection. Both are inhibiting growth in the developed world and allows an open door to the developing worlds’ response to these opportunities.
SouthCarolinian: I am told most of the stuff in American shops is made in china. What is wrong being in love with that country?
All the “Harmonious Society” stuff sounds like veiled threats. Like being told you are under someone’s protection. Which of course you are.
The video’s evocative of Hungary in the 1990s, particularly in the countryside. There’s that residual fear, knowing that the police are tracking you (we’d be speaking of prior to 1992 or so).
And that housing… Wow, there’s a lot of it. Is anyone tracking the supply/demand balance? One can almost imagine the Michael Lewis article on a China real estate implosion: “Ireland Goes to Shandong” or something along those lines.
I want to know what the Family Planning Enforcement Van does…
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