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A few months ago I visited the recently opened Guangzhou Opera House, designed by renowned British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid. The project represents a new era in cultural development for Guangzhou and China. Drawing inspiration from the adjacent Pearl River, the project is conceived as  ‘pebbles in a stream smoothed by erosion’.

Guangzhou (0nce known as Canton) is one of China’s great cities, with a long history and unique culture. Sitting in the Pearl River Delta, the city was once China’s gateway to the world, serving as the country’s primary hub of international trade. Today Guangzhou remains an important city as it is the capital of prosperous Guangdong Province.

Yet as China has developed in recent years, Guangzhou has ceded some of its historic luster. No longer is Guangzhou China’s gateway to the world as nearby Hong Kong has taken that title. The special economic zone of Shenzhen, also nearby, dominates international headlines with its rapid development and status as China’s symbol modern prosperity.

Yet what Shenzhen and Hong Kong lack in culture, Guangzhou makes up for with its proud sense of the past. The opera house is an attempt to regain some of its cultural dominance in southern China. View full post »

It seems that too often talk about China development focuses on ‘hard’ infrastructure projects including roads, bridges, power stations, rail systems, etc.  Yet what is often overlooked in discussions about China’s infrastructure are projects designed to enhance quality of life for city dwellers. I recently discovered one of these new projects in the city where I live, Chengdu. View full post »

In a gigantic blow to the credibility and safety of China’s high-speed rail network, a train traveling from Zhejiang’s provincial capital of Hangzhou to the seaside city of Wenzhou derailed Saturday evening. Details at this point are still developing, but so far reports have said that the train was struck by lightning and then subsequently hit by another train, leading to two of the train’s cars falling from a bridge. So far, 16 passengers are reported dead and 89 injured. View full post »

  • Rob Healy, London UK - My thoughts are with all those involved in this terrible accident.ReplyCancel

    • Adam Nathaniel Mayer - Thanks for your kind thoughts Rob. I think at this time it is important for those in western countries to offer support to the Chinese people rather than use this incident as an opportunity to hurl potshots. The bravery of the bystanders and uninjured passengers as well as the rescue crews and people of Wenzhou who donated blood show a spirit solidarity among the Chinese people in times of tragedy.ReplyCancel

  • Howard Mark - Adam
    Perhaps the lesson to be learned is that when a train falls off the radar for whatever reason, the first alert red flag should have been an automatic fail safe to have the flow of the trains approaching reduce speed or at best to a speed where human visual contact has the time to bring the following trains to a safe stop. I use the example when travelling at high speed if something is amiss in front of me the system should raise the alert. Power failure for whatever reason must be part of the equation. Time is the issue. When did the power loss occur. What was the protocol for this emergency. Train operators were not equipped with cell phones. Cell phones may not have in a blind zone. Safety was an assumption perhaps, but when this happens, the immediate process should have been to unload the passenger to safety and off the train. Panic at this point would set in, but staff and personnel must be trained for this rare condition to deal emergency conditionsReplyCancel

Public policy, stripped to its basics, is a choice among value alternatives. What one person will vehemently contend is the correct policy and another will say is wrongheaded will not depend on empirical measurement, but on the person’s values, philosophy, and ideology.” – John Kasarda

While in the above quote Kasarda, business professor at UNC-Chapel Hill and co-author of the book Aerotropolis, refers to individual values, the same rule is also applicable to groups and institutions. This is certainly the case in the United States where the government  is in the midst of tense negotiations over the so-called ‘debt ceiling’. America’s two main political factions, Republicans and Democrats, are currently at a loss of coming to a consensus due to ideological hangups.

Republicans, who favor severe austerity by cutting social programs yet oppose any sort of tax increases, are unwilling to compromise. The Republicans’ flawed ideological-based approach to solving America’s  economic turmoil comes at perhaps one of the worst times in the country’s history with unemployment at an all-time high and millions losing social benefits. Even Vice President Joe Biden recently told Republican lawmakers that their “intransigence over taxes is a matter of ideology not economics“. View full post »

  • Hao Hao Report - Someone thinks this story is fantastic…

    This story was submitted to Hao Hao Report – a collection of China’s best stories and blog posts. If you like this story, be sure to go vote for it….ReplyCancel

  • Magnus - I understand your point about America locked in a battle and China charging ahead…but in the US we have the voice of the people. The fact that there are people in Washington who disagree and gum up the works is because there are people who disagree with the trajectory of the country. In China there is no voice of the people. The government does what it wants when it wants with NO input from the people.

    I think your quote said it perfectly: “…kept its huge population busy and employed…” that is not the right way to do things. Making busy work for people? That’s why they have ghost towns!

    I do agree with you that the Democrats have left their traditional backbone and are clinging to the environmental groups.

    All in all, thought provoking! Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Jean Paul Amos Katigbak - There are true merits of the democratic republican system of government that must be carefully examined because depite having the voice of the people (please note that the U.S. is not the only country that has one – other countries do have in diferrent ways as well), I suspect the divisiveness, the ideological power grab, the reluctance to publicly solve various problems, secularist dominance in society, etc. are what drive the extent of politics and socio-economic discourse in the world today.
    Also, in my view, the idea of communism isn’t dead, especially because of the Marxist ideology. How disturbing is still does today!
    Perhaps ordinary people like me would have to think twice, again.

To mark the 90th Anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party two weeks ago, the seaside city of Qingdao in Shandong province opened its new Jiaozhou Bay bridge. At 42.4 km, it is the longest sea bridge in the world. The bridge links historic Qingdao with the city’s industrial zone Huangdao. View full post »

  • Thomas Brizendine - Familiarity with greater Qingdao will clarify city planners thinking with regard to these project. The Bridge not only serves as an immediate industrial link, but opens up vast tracts of 1950s, 60s and 70s industrial areas to redevelopment. Further, premium housing, and commercial (non-industrial) real-estate is clearly along the coast. With the expansion of the Qingdao City administrative area, the tunnel opens up large tracts of area to this type of development. It’s simple. These infrastructure projects make it possible for the local government to continue to fund itself through land deals, and provide performance markers for local cadres.ReplyCancel

    • Adam Nathaniel Mayer - Thanks for the clarification Thomas. It makes sense given that this is the same story of development throughout China. It is the infrastructure that makes available new land for real estate projects…and at this stage in China’s overall development, the local governments cannot survive without auctioning land off to property developers.ReplyCancel