I have just seen the section on the Guardian called “The Other China”, dedicated to the “huge but often unreported cities on the frontline of China’s urbanization”. It is a welcome occasion to finish a post that I had in the pipeline since my 4,000-kilometre train journey through China in October 2016.
The reason to visit China this time in 2016 had a lot to do with my new professional passion, i.e. the history and development of cities. After having met the author of a book project I have always admired as well as pondering life amid landscapes zooming by the train window, herewith some notes on inspiration.
Hongqiao Integrated Transport Hub, Shanghai
A shame I don’t speak the language and have more time and inspiration to explore the country(side). And still, the occasional trip to China has always been worth it. This time was no different.
I went to a presentation by Stephen Roach (former chief economist of Morgan Stanley) a couple of weeks ago. He started off with a good overview of current global financial imbalances. Yet I felt he fell short on delivering on the presentation title’s promise – showing how China can learn from Japan – in good ways and in bad. Some of the topics I would have liked to be seen addressed after the jump.
Shanghai haze viewed from Pudong
The proximity to Columbia University and my flexibility as a freelancer allow for plenty of visits to public lectures. So today I went to this mini-conference on state intervention and private enterprise in the US, Japan and China. What promised to be an intriguing event left a lot to be desired. The following lines are some casual and possibly incongruous observations.
For the lack of a better photo: Chandler and Northwest Corner Building at Columbia University
It’s nearly a year ago that I first used China’s new high-speed rail (HSR) when travelling from Beijing to Hangzhou. It was a fascinating experience. A New York Times article again drew my attention to the perhaps most ambitious infrastructure project a single nation has ever undertaken. It also made me dig out the one and only photo of a train I took. And no, I have no idea who this person is.
One of our trips inside Burma took us to Shan State in the country’s north. Starting off in Pyin Oo Lwin – or Maymyo as the British called the city – we made our way towards the princely town of Hsipaw. We took the train to get a change of scenery.
The flat which a friend of mine has kindly offered to me for the last two weeks of my Tokyo stay is a short walk from the Chinese embassy. With tensions between Japan and China running high, it is no surprise that protests take place here from time to time. Just as I was walking by this Sunday, two uyoku dantai (literally “right wing groups”) vans were trying to make their way through police blockades.
To my surprise I have found myself following a rather economics-heavy debate on overinvestment in China recently. I’m interested because of my forthcoming e-book project. One of the chapters will be on Japan’s economic miracle. Apart from pondering investment to GDP ratios I was wondering: can we compare today’s China with post-war Japan?
House in Hangzhou, China