Sunday, January 25, 2009

Observations on China

I'm just now getting my energy back after my trip to China and a bout of food poisoning that I brought back. I hope I can be more attentive to the blog.

Just as an experiment, I tried to record a 15 minute discussion about my observations of China. I have to warn you that you should not expect any deep insights from fairly quick trip in which I spent most of my time in the corridors of various universities.


Rdan said...

The link does not work.

Michael Perelman said...

I just tried it. It worked.

Myrtle Blackwood said...

well, your talk prompted me to go online and download some images of Shanghai. And, yes it looks like a pretty amazing place! I thought New York was the ultimate cement city but no longer. . . It frightens me.

A search of 'Shanghai' on my desktop came up with the following:

"The establishment of the Chinese working class since 1980. This class is most visible in three regions: Guangdong (Pearl River Delta), Shanghai region (Yangtze River delta) and Beijing-Tianjin (Yellow River valley). 120 million are displaced from the countryside to the cities since 1980 many of which are without residency rights and have become long-term transients.
The Chinese working class has been established with great rapidity most visibly in three regions: The Pearl River delta (Guangdong. 25 million), the Yangtze River delta (Shanghai region) and the Yellow River valley (Beijing-Tianjin). 350 million wage-workers in all. 58-70% of factory workers are female, a large number of whom are housed in dormitories. 120 million displaced from countryside to the cities since 1980. The communes have been abolished. A household responsibility system has been instigated that allowed some farmers to prosper in the richest zones but left marginal producers exposed to low prices, poor soils, small plots, lack of inputs and the corruption of the predatory local cadres. The hukou system (created in the Maoist era to limit rural-to-urban migration) means that peasant migrants do not have residency rights in the cities and have become long-term transients.....Municipalities are motivated by rents and revenues from land taxes. The Provisional Land Use Taxation Act in 1989 introduced a system based on the quality of land. Such taxes are an effective means of inducing market behaviour and rent maximization. The Urban Planning Law of 1989 requires cities to draw up comprehensive plans, which have been used to push landholders towards intensification. City centres have seen massive clearance of old buildings, and handovers of land to developers under programmes such as Beijing’s Old and Dilapidated Housing Redevelopment Act. Beijing has demolished 4.2 million square metres in the old city, and Shanghai 22.5 million square metres, displacing over a million people in the former and a million and a half in the latter. [13] Similarly, suburban expansion has been helped along by municipal grants of land and money to infrastructure builders and housing promoters....China’s urban population and number of cities have trebled in a generation, and the country is now around 40 per cent urbanized: over one hundred cities have at least half a million people. The most spectacular urban growth in the early reform period, strongly linked to export industrialization, was in south China—reversing northern dominance under Maoism. Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Dongguan, each with a population of 7 to 9 million, became the new workshops of the world. By the late 1990s, however, the big northern and central coast cities had moved to the forefront. Beijing and Shanghai each count over 15 million souls and have exploded their old boundaries, now numbering among the largest conurbations on earth. [36]

Dramatic increase in illegal log imports
China refuses to follow Malaysian lead requiring proof of legal source of imported logs
Increased harvesting of under-aged plantations used for feed stock for growing of pulp & MDF plants
have seen 3-4 yr old Poplar used in MDF plants
Port development in Shanghai will facilitate imports from RFE by ship (both legal & illegal and both hardwood and softwood)
expect softwood lumber mills near Shanghai producing dimension SW lumber for US market
Continued expansion of HW using industries (flooring, doors, furniture, moulding)
little thought given to long term supply
sustainability considerations lacking....Internal Chinese Market
Internal market has low quality, low cost requirements with small but growing “quality class”
Infrastructure being built for wealthy class not yet in existence
In Shanghai average income is $US 7,000 per year (triple China avg.) but apartments sell for $110,000 + (in Canada this would mean an avg. price for apt. in city of US$ 785,000)
Empty high end dept. stores selling goods few can afford
Empty home centres selling materials and products beyond the reach of most consumers