Monday, March 15, 2010

Planning and Development in China

The LA Times reports that China has built new airports that are sitting essentially empty. I suppose these empty airports can serve empty cities like Ordos. Or maybe Huaxi, which claims to be China's richest city, and is building one of the world's tallest buildings that is certain to sit empty. And then there are the pie-in-the-sky high speed rail projects. (Though if there are no expectations for passengers then these rail projects make sense.)

Planners hope that planning leads development. In China it seems that planning and development are leading everything else, and I'm not sure that will result in orderly growth. It's hard to see how the Chinese model of planning and development is sustainable economically, and it certainly looks like aspects of the Chinese economy are "frothy," to use the endearing Greenspan term. In any event, these projects should serve as warnings when you hear that we are falling behind the Chinese in terms of infrastructure development and planning. We are certainly falling behind in building unused projects, but I think that's a good thing.

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