Sep 01

Recently completed mega-construction projects in China

Written by Nimrod on Monday, September 1st, 2008 at 7:13 am
Filed under:culture, Environment | Tags:, , , ,
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For about two decades straight, day-and-night, 24/7, China has been the world’s construction ground, with architectural marvels and giant infrastructure springing up at a swift rate and on an enormous scale. The Beijing Olympics set some ungodly tight deadlines on a few of these projects, but with sheer drive, massive manpower, capital investment, and the directive planning power of the state, nearly all of these mega projects have been completed in a matter of years — unheard of anywhere else in the world.

The world may know about pieces like the Bird’s Nest, the Qinghai-Tibet railroad, and the Three Gorges Dam, but here are some others that have been delivered around China in the past 5 years.

1. Beijing Capital International Airport Terminal 3, biggest building in the world:

Here’s a pretty good discovery channel documentary on its construction process, and alludes to some of the land issues we encounter in a fast-developing China.

2. Yangshan deep water port and East China Sea bridge (stage 1 completed)

More here (thanks to Glyx).

3. Hangzhou Bay sea bridge, longest sea bridge in the world

4. Suzhou-Nantong Yangtze River bridge, longest cable-stayed main span in the world

5. Beijing-Tianjing inter-city rail, fastest rail speed in the world

6. Shanghai maglev, to be extended to Hangzhou

7. Shanghai World Financial Center, tallest building in the world by roof height (before Dubai completes its)

8. Beijing National Theater (The Egg)

9. CCTV tower (structure completed)

Not too shabby. For a light dig, I’ll even submit that while certain countries and their protesting industry were busy figuring out how to embarrass China ever since Beijing won the Olympics bid, China seems to have been too busy to pay attention. 😉

To leave off this post, this site has descriptions of some other mega-projects. Among the ongoing and planned ones that will be completed in the next decade or so are the Beijing-Shanghai high speed rail, the Caofeidian port, the Lingang city (with a huge circular artificial lake), Changxing Island shipyard. Of course, there are still an unimaginable number of other projects going on, rapidly expanding cities, highways, bridges, tunnels, dams, nuclear reactors, airports, diverting water from the south to the north, etc… makes one dizzy just thinking about it.

There are currently 4 comments highlighted: 68196, 68197, 68198, 68199.

59 Responses to “Recently completed mega-construction projects in China”

  1. Michelle Says:

    Not an opinion, just an observation. As someone who feels like she’s spent half her life in airports, specifically Beijing’s three terminals, S’pore’s *spectacular* Changi and NY’s dire JKF:

    Forget JFK, needs lots of work; I could kvetch, kvetch, kvetch all day.

    BJ T3 – big, but cold. Lots of empty spaces, facilities pretty limited, not inviting, no place to buy magazines in other languages (my pet peeve), services pretty limited in scope. Big impressive building, but more a shell wrapped in a statement.

    Changi – Don’t know who’s had the pleasure but by far the best airport i’ve been to. Comfortable, manageable, convenient, relaxing even…

    There’s a world of difference between T3 and Changi, and there are those who wonder if it says something about how China goes about these mega-constructions. I’ve heard similar comments about the ‘egg’. Beautiful impressive building, but get inside… just kind ok and somewhat annoying. (haven’t been to the egg yet).

    That said, there is some really cool architecture here, and kudos for the powers that be for taking risks. I think CCTV’s new ‘dakuzi’ is absolutely amazing. And of course, no need to say the birds nest and the water cube are fantastic inside and out.

  2. Nimrod Says:

    Michelle, T3 was just barely opened, after the big rush for the Olympics. Give it time for the “airport” to grow into the space.

  3. Michelle Says:

    I suppose perhaps…. But I don’t see much changing, honestly if it wasn’t changed for the Olympics. Beijing would have been better with smaller T3, T4, T5, and T6. (I travel nearly every week for work within China, so perhaps i’m just worn down).

    Travel tip – Hainan airlines flies into T1 on domestic flights to BJ. Plane to taxi in 20 minutes! 🙂 What a breeze!

  4. Michelle Says:

    Re: new TJ-BJ train: The old service has been suspended (70 minutes station to station) and the new trains do not hold the same capacity as the old ones. People need to arrive 3 to 4 hours ahead of time to get their tickets as they are not sold in advance. The technology is great, but the service infrastructure is not so much.

    I know Nimrod will think i’m nit picking. And I admit I am to some extent (I was recently burned by that TJ train). But I think there are some important things to remember when considering these buildings – by saying that they could only have been built so quickly in China is probably true – because partly of the enthusiasm of the nation, but the exploitation of labour in China is a very serious issue.

    Don’t get me wrong, I *love* beijing and the buildings in it, and I think China is in one of those magic windows where she can do stuff like this. If I were magically transported back to the building of the Hoover Dam, I’d have similar concerns, yet the dam was fundamental to the development of a whole area of the US south west. Similarly, many poor labourers died building the Brooklyn Bridge, yet it is a powerful symbol. Should we have not built these things? No, and I support China building these fantastic structures. I do also encourage people to consider Heathrow’s 20-so-years-in-the-making new terminal with Beijing’s T3. And while you’re at it, consider the amazing buildings you find in Pyongyang.

    Forget the foreigners, the labour rights concerns i’m raising are ‘hot topics’ amoung the Chinese, many of whom question the spending on such projects. In sum, while many people in China have lobbied / protested for the fundamental rights of labourers who construct these buildings, China seems to have been too busy to pay attention. And Nimrod’s dig is peppered with a dab of hubris, IMHO.

  5. Wukailong Says:

    The second picture can’t be seen, with the message:


  6. Nimrod Says:

    Michelle, all good points.

    In the beginning of this post, there is a documentary about the construction of the T3, and in it, the foreign architecture firms (and let’s not forget it was a joint venture) expressed surprise that at the time to begin construction, there were still 10’s of thousands of people living on the land. Of course they were relocated in short order.

    And the maglev extension in Shanghai was delayed for years because locals protested about noise and potential health hazards of radiation (but actually about negative effects of surrounding property values, anyway…) It’s still going ahead, but at least they took the time to listen (or negotiate better compensation, whatever the case may be).

    So it’s not all rosy, but a vast majority of these infrastructural projects are very important to China’s future, just like the Hoover Dam. So there is little hubris in the dig, trust me. It just contains a suggestion to look more deeply at the root causes of “human rights” issues that some people are berating China over. As we know, most of them have to do with land and compensation disputes. How many of these protestors thousands of miles away do you think know the causes, dynamics, and internal maneuverings in China, even in those flagrant cases where the end result was disappointing or abusive of rights? Because if they don’t, then I really do think they are wasting their time.

  7. Michelle Says:

    Argh, forget the protesters thousands of miles away. They are generally not-fully-informed individuals rather than a ‘protest industry’ bent on ’embarassing China’ as you suggest. There are far, far more protesters and objections (over this issue) in China than out (as you say). We can recognize the amazingness of these structures while at the same time contemplating if we *really* need a faster link between Beijing and Tianjin, or whether workers who build these structures should be able to (legally) get free primary education for their children, or if it’s ok to move tens of thousands overnight in the name of progress. The answers aren’t necessarily no, but the questions shouldn’t be ignored – China’s ablility to do this when others aren’t isn’t simply because they are able to 加 a bit more 油.

    Anyhow, if I recall, one of the regulars here is in Tianjin (Sorry I can’t remember your name!). I’m curious about his feelings on the new train.

  8. Nimrod Says:

    Yes, Joel lives in Tianjin. He’ll have more to say about it, I’m sure.

    Also, I’m much more sympathetic to the requirements of these kinds of infrastructure projects and the associated human toll, than I am to that of, say, these colossal government buildings.

    Speaking of human tolls in either of these cases, let’s also keep in mind that the construction labor is getting jobs — menial jobs that don’t guarantee their children’s schooling, yes, but still better than no jobs. And the relocated people, they are getting “better” housing — not their sentimental, familiar, or cheap hutong housing, yes, but still better, more modern, and better equipped housing. There is always an other side, you see.

  9. NMBWhat Says:

    Edited by Admin. There are more constructive ways to express your anger than using obscene words.
    Constructed on the blood and sweat of regular folks.

  10. Nimrod Says:

    Michelle wrote:

    “China’s ablility to do this when others aren’t isn’t simply because they are able to 加 a bit more 油.”

    Very well put, but it is the crux of the issue, isn’t it? Why does China have this “ability”? To me, it’s more a willingness than an ability. In some sense, it is sacrifice. No other country is willing to make that sacrifice.

    It really comes down to this. If the people in charge (for this argument, it doesn’t matter how they got to be in charge) decide to do something. Let’s say this something would benefit 20% of the people tremendously, benefit 50% of the people somewhat, and 30% of the people may lose a little bit in the short-term. But let’s say the country as a whole really benefits, so everybody or descendents could potentially benefit. Do you go ahead? In China’s case it goes ahead. In other countries, it doesn’t, or the process is dragged on so long that the project is dead.

    For China, many of these projects are critical to the path of development. They need to be done, and done now, to keep the country moving forward and to give more people better lives — people who have been waiting and clamoring for these better lives for generations. Things are happening so fast the deliberations are left behind. We know very well India’s model doesn’t work, because India is also a developing country. But in fully populated developed countries such as the US, where living standards are high enough and pace of change slow enough, a stalled project doesn’t have much of an impact anyway. I do wonder, though, how long they can keep that up as their infrastructure decays and they fall behind the curve on needed improvements. Bridges collapsing in Minnesota, levees bursting in New Orleans, 0 major new airports built since 1974 in the US… just some signs that worse is yet to come.

  11. Michelle Says:

    In Beijing, that is certainly more often than not the case, but compensation for forced moves is less fair the farther you travel outside. Three Gorges Dam, as I recall, was a particular point of conflict in this area and many people did not receive adequate compensation. As for hutong living, I agree .. you see.

  12. Chops Says:

    Re: “7. Shanghai World Financial Center, tallest building in the world (before Dubai completes its)”

    Seems to be not quite the “tallest” after Taipei 101,

    “People’s Daily August 31, 2008

    A total of 4, 000 visitors, natives and foreigners, flocked to the Shanghai World Financial Center on its first opening day to have a sightseeing on Saturday, the Oriental Morning Post reported.

    The Thursday-inaugurated Center stands aloof at 492 meters in the city’s Pudong District, and is so far the biggest skyscraper in Chinese mainland and the third-tallest in the world after Burj Dubai and Taipei 101…”


  13. Michelle Says:

    My general gripe about JFK extends to US infrastructure as a whole which is why I’d prefer not to compare the China to the US. I prefer to compare the China that is with the China that could be. (The US is a whole other discussion).

    I think we are generally in agreement, this is all good for China, and your point about sacrifice is on the mark. But I don’t think you can speak of China as one great entity ready and willing to sacrifice – too idealistic and sounds like revolutionary jingoism. I’m sure there are some who would prefer not, while being screwed, to be told simply to “close your eyes and think of the future”.

  14. FOARP Says:

    @Admin – Can we have less of the swearing? It’s hardly pleasant.

    @Nimrod – I’ll admit it, I’m a fan of big projects, growing up in the cradle of the industrial revolution, I was brought up by my father, who is also great enthusiast for idustrial heritage to admire the works of great British engineers and industrialists like I.K. Brunel, Trevithick, George Stephenson, Abraham Darby, James Watt, and Richard Arkwright. Later I learned about engineers like Vauban, Diesel, Daimler, the Wright brothers, Korylov, and (possible war criminal, but also great engineer) Werner Von Braun; physicists like Oppenheimer, Fermi, and Sakharov; the great American industrialist Henry Ford; and the great inventor (and some would say shyster) Thomas Edison. There’s nothing I enjoy more than hearing of something like the upcoming activation of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN (by the way, there’s a slight chance of the world ending the week after next), or watching the growth of the Taipei 101 week after week over the Taipei skyline, or the announcement of a Chinese mission to the moon and the launch of Yang Liwei into space. For all these reasons and more I am as excited as any by China’s feats in engineering, I certainly hope the Chinese government also decides to direct more money into the field of scientific research – particularly into the exploration of fusion energy and the wider universe. Maybe then the names of great Chinese engineers and scientists will take their rightful place amongst those of the other great industrial societies.

  15. Michelle Says:

    Sorry about my swearing…

  16. Netizen K Says:

    In my view, the largest, longest, tallest something is not the best of it. The Chinese should stop obessing about these things.

  17. BMY Says:


    May I suggest you could use more respectful words to express your opinions?

  18. Joel Says:

    We just road the 337km/h Tianjin-Beijing highspeed rail… 29 minutes to Beijing: very cool! Sure beats the old-school train we took this afternoon, which took almost 4 hours to cover a comparable distance. And free bottled water from Tibet for the Olympics, too!

    (By the way, it’s Tianjin, not Tianjing.)

    During the Olympics we walked into the new Tianjin train station, stood in line to buy tickets for maybe 10 minutes, and then walked straight to the train, no waiting around. Security was smooth and fast (and they didn’t seem to care that everyone was tripping the metal detector). I get the feeling that a lot of Tianjiners feel that getting train tickets is a little sketchy — as if it were nearly impossible to do without either booking in advance or going hours early. Even the hotel manger today: “You haven’t bought tickets yet? You need to go earlier!” We’ve never had any problems, but then again we never travel during the peak holiday times.

    But I’m completely ignorant of how the Tianjin-Beijing fast rail was built, so if there’s any controversy or whatever involved, I wouldn’t know.

  19. Glyx Says:

    Maybe use this picture? This is Yangshan deep water port and East China Sea bridge. From this site

    I had visited this port at least 3 years ago, indeed a huge project. But there exist many controversies also with Ningbo Beilun port, the island where the port located was once Zhejiang‘s.

  20. Glyx Says:

    sorry, I meant No.2 in this site: http://www.eastsea.gov.cn/Module/Show.aspx?id=3700

  21. Glyx Says:

    This is Donghai Bridge: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6d/Donghai_Bridge.jpg

    Delete my post after you insert the pictures, please.

  22. wuming Says:

    Does anybody has knowledge on China’s long term plan for transportation? I am interested whether they are going to emphasize on railroad or on highway/automobiles. With all the tens of thousands kms of expressways built, are they being used?

    I think they made a mistake in developing an automobile industry at such speed and scale. Mass-transit would have been much better investment

  23. FOARP Says:

    @Wuming – I’m afraid such things are beyond the government’s control at the moment, cars are a status symbol and people will buy the even if they are not really a useful means of transport.

  24. ranger Says:

    The last link in the article is not working. Please clean up the URL.

  25. S.K. Cheung Says:

    These are impressive projects indeed. That magnitude of construction is certainly unparalleled in US and Canada these days. I think the governments have made choices. China chose to improve her infrastructure to facilitate further growth. Meanwhile, US and Canada have apparently chosen other priorities for use of their tax dollars. At some point, infrastructure upkeep will have to become a priority around here.

  26. Nimrod Says:

    Netizen K Says:

    “In my view, the largest, longest, tallest something is not the best of it. The Chinese should stop obessing about these things.”

    Certainly not. I just picked a few of the iconic superlatives, but there have been literally thousands of projects like these but on a “smaller” scale that I did not mention, for example, the Zhenjiang-Yangzhou Yangtze River bridge (Runyang Bridge) in Jiangsu, the Longtan Dam in Guangxi, Yangtze River tunnels at Shanghai, Nanjing, and Wuhan, etc…

    Sometimes things are big in China just because they are planned and built for the needs of the future. Terminal 3 of Capital Airport, for example, was built to specification for air traffic growth (which has been exploding) well into the next decade. It may look empty now but just wait and watch.

  27. wukong Says:

    A NYT Op-Ed piece offered some sentimental reflections on how differently US and China spent the last 7 years:

    As I sat in my seat at the Bird’s Nest, watching thousands of Chinese dancers, drummers, singers and acrobats on stilts perform their magic at the closing ceremony, I couldn’t help but reflect on how China and America have spent the last seven years: China has been preparing for the Olympics; we’ve been preparing for Al Qaeda. They’ve been building better stadiums, subways, airports, roads and parks. And we’ve been building better metal detectors, armored Humvees and pilotless drones.

  28. NMBWhat Says:

    Bah, not another article from that guy.

    I don’t get it, why would people compare the U.S and China. You can do it – there are points that you can compare, but on most points you really can’t. At least when it comes to building infrastructures.

    The thing with the airport: didn’t I read somewhere that they barely had anyone come to watch the Olympics in person. So could anyone tell me whether the new airport was used to capacity, or anywhere near capacity? Looks like a big waste of money to me. But I’m also pretty cynical. *shrugs*

    Well, I guess it’s not a total waste. Since the Olympics was a huge publicity campaign. And they succeeded. If it were up to me I’d use the Chinese government’s political ‘capital’ to build China into THE communist ecological utopia. I mean we have the tech now to make sure that everyone can be well fed. What else do you need really? WE don’t need all the junks such as cars, or t.vs. None of that crap really matters.

  29. fobtacular Says:

    NMBWhat, the opening/closing ceremony was fully seated. While many other game events such as weight lifting or less interesting sport are not fully seated. Track & Field events in Bird’s Nest was fully seated, not that everyone come to see the sport event, but most of them are there to enjoy the new stadium.

    To say if the airport is worth the money or not, just ask anyone who has visited Beijing’s old airport. They would tell you how crowded the old airport is. The new airport was started operating back in March if I remember correctly, its going to take a while before it starts to operate at near full capacity.

  30. greg Says:

    My favorite topic.

    China has spent the last two decades to build the world’s second largest expressway system after the U.S. and, when it’s all done by 2020, it will have a national expressway network (85,000 km) that will rival or surpass US’s interstate system.

    China has now just started to build a national high-speed train network set to complete in 2020 (and will be more than extended in the future). The entire network consists of 4 north-south routes, 4 east-west routes and 3 regional intercity systems – the three regions being Yangtze River Delta, Pearl River Delta and around Bohai. This year, the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed railway broke grounds and is set to complete in 2013. With oil price so high, the timing is great. See the planned route map here: http://www.hnust.com/zbjq/UploadFiles_6981/200608/200688232710594.jpg

    In the end, I believe China will have an extensive and modern high-speed rail network that will rival Europe’s.

    There are several dozens of Chinese cities that are building or extending various subway and light-rail systems.

    China is probably the only country in the world that has the size, population density, resources, manpower and will to build and economically justify an extensive expressway network, high-speed rail system and national air travel system at the same time.

  31. Peter Zim Says:

    Concerning the Beijing Olympics, from the few reports I read it, the non-traditional sports such as beach volleyball and sychronized swimming competitions were apparently packed out. I wonder why????

  32. NMBWhat Says:

    No, sorry if you misunderstood. What I’m getting at is didn’t they build the airport in order to support the massive influx of air traffic to Beijing for the Olympics. So did they get the expected number of visiting tourists from outside of the country?

    I’m aware of the problems with the old airport. Well, after thinking about it tho, yeah I guess the new airport has it’s uses. But did they really have to build it that big?

    Well, I don’t know why I’m hating on it (sometimes I hate just to be the odd ball, the one who goes against the grain). I’m sure I will enjoy the experience when I fly into BJC next time, hehe.

  33. Charles Liu Says:

    If T3 was recently finished, I’d certainly hope it’s not used anywhere near it’s capacity, as certainly the planners had anticiapted growth for the next 50 years.

    Anyways while large marquee projects are worth noting, I’d like to point out the changes on a smaller scales as one travels thru China, such as the new Shenzhen airport, as well as the airport in Zhengzhou, built in the last 3-5 years.

    And the regular folks that are on these domestic flights, biding on ticket/coupon auctions as their short flight concludes, being home hours or a day early, because train is no longer the only option.

  34. MutantJedi Says:

    I was in the new Beijing airport last week – it is beautiful and extremely easy to get from A to B.

  35. PB Says:

    The magnitude of China’s adventures in infrastructure never cease to amaze, that’s for sure.

    Concerning much of the construction, though, I do think people tend to overestimate the influence of sound long-term planning and underestimate the political imperatives to building bigger and flashier (hello, promotion!). For every T3 or CCTV, there is “superhighway to nowhere” or ridiculously large but vacant office complex somewhere in the hinterland. It is in these cases that Chinese development’s ability to plow full steam ahead without question or pause becomes a real problem rather than an advantage. For every carefully planned new bridge, there is a tremendously wasteful (and probably useless) mega-project somewhere else.

    Another thing I’ve never really understood (and I’m being honest here, not cynical or sarcastic) is how China’s massive wave of expected urbanization is used to justify all the recent urban construction (and here in particular I’m talking about real estate). It seems to me that it is overwhelmingly targeting already well-off people with plush shopping malls and condo towers, with the migrants relegated to temporary on-site dormitories or peripheral pseudo-urban villages. Are hundreds of millions of migrants really expected to arrive in town and instantly upgrade to expensive condo living? In this case, rampant speculation at the luxury level seems more at play than a genuine need to meet housing needs. Does anyone know how the central gov’ts efforts to promote more affordable, down-to-earth housing are going?

  36. greg Says:

    For people interested in China’s infrastructure investment and plan, here is a report from The Economist published in February this year: “China’s infrastructure splurge.” (http://www.economist.com/world/asia/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10697210)

    It is not the expected massive urbanization that is used to justify the recent urban construction. Instead, it is the rapid economic development and the urban housing privatization that have driven much of the construction boom. Considering that China only started to have a private housing market in late ’90s – before that urban residents were assigned apartment units by their “work unit” – the real estate boom in large part merely met the pent-up demand. In the process, much of the Chinese cities have adopted a development model learned from Hong Kong, i.e., the local government would sell lands and use the revenue to develop infrastructure. Partly asa result, China’s toll is the highest in the world (see the The Economist article above).

    As for potential waste, there is no doubt about it, especially at the local level. But the at the national level, high-profile projects are usually discussed and debated for long times and with China increasingly capitalistic, justified by economically (The Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway had been debated since early ’90s). There are exceptions, of course, as in the case of Qinghai-Tibet Railroad. It was built for political and strategic reasons and was known to be not profitable in the near future. The big picture is that with a large population and rapidly growing economy, even if certain infrastructure is built ahead of time, it is highly likely that demand will grow to the capacity quickly (see the Beijing-Shenyang Expressway mentioned in the same article above). Unlike Japan in the ’90s when it wasted a lot of tax-payer’s money on many white elephant projects to boost the economy, China is still a developing country with a huge population, rapidly growing economy and underdeveloped infrastructure. On balance, the infrastructure splurge will greatly benefit the country.

  37. MoneyBall Says:

    I agree with Michelle, Singapore’s airport is fantastic, their biz lodge is the best in the world, the food is amazing, Singapore airline is the best carrier in the world also. The good part of US airports is their layouts are all the same, you will never get lost in a new airport……

    T3’s problem is … well the 1st time I took off there, turned out I had to get on a shuttle to board my flight, I was like WTF? They still have a lot to learn, I think its safe to say 30% of Chinese domestic flights are not on time, simply poor managment and coordination. I was once working in a facility near Atlanta airport, I couldnt believe how busy it was, every min there’s a plane coming down or taking off, yet I never got my flight delayed there.

  38. PB Says:

    greg, you make a lot of good points, but I do think that Chinese economic growth now is too hooked on large-scale projects. The real estate speculation has been out of control for the better part of a decade- I think the pent-up housing demand phase is now past. Like you mentioned though, land sales being local govt’s ticket to funding has really exacerbated the problem. I know the situation is different from city to city (with some being much better than others), but this systemic problem (revenue without accountability) is responsible for who knows how much supposedly ‘public’ money going into an official’s bank account and ridiculous face projects as opposed to useful public infrastructure. And, unfortunately, I think many governments are completely hooked on this system, so why would they stop it?

    It’s almost as if the economic boom IS the economy at this point, so even at the first signs of a slight slowdown you have rumours of a gov’t stimulus package.

    China!? A stimulus package? That is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard, sort of like putting out a fire with gasoline 🙂

    I’ve also thought about all the comparisons between American and Chinese nation-building. The big difference that no one really talks about is that the US built itself largely on vacant land (yes, after all the Natives were ‘vacated’, unfortunately!). China, however, is trying to rebuild itself into what is effectively a US on steroids- but on top of an existing country of 1.3 billion people. I think that goes a long way to explain all the land conflicts as well as what appears to be a much more ruthless drive to industrialization. And I think it’s obvious to say that the embedded corruption/cronyism sure doesn’t help things.

    As an avid urbanist I am really fascinated by everything that is going on in Chinese cities, but sometimes I do really wonder how it is all going to turn out in 20-30 years. Will they be more like Singapore or a high-rise Mexico City? I guess time, and politics, will tell.

  39. Daniel Says:

    Hmm…That would be interesting to see or imagine how the landscape of China will be like in 20-30 years. I hope their urbanization will be different from other countries. Take into consideration a land that has been used and settled for so long, plus with so many people to manage and provide, etc.
    For the sake of making a prosperous, peaceful and sustainable society, I think it’s going to require a lot of innovation and creativity in part of the people living in China, possibly producing more things never been seen or done before. Maybe…corruption and comtentment can in some sense, make or break everything.

    I was reading one of the National Geographic Magazines discussing China, and from some of the reactions (in the States) I heard, it seems many people are both wary and pessimistic regarding the development, mainly because of the resources required as well as some “guilt” they feel of what it took to make their lives as it is today. However, I notice there was some chance of hope because due to the history and culture reasonings, China is a civilization builted to endure no matter what happens. In an optimistic view, I think the near future mega-consturction projects will be more interesting to see.

  40. JXie Says:

    In 2007, Beijing transported 54 million passengers, making it the 9th busiest airport in the world (Atlanta was #1 with 89 million passengers). The combined designed capacity of T1 and T2 is 35 million passengers — Beijing had gotten a lot of mileages out of those 2 already. When T2 was first completed, it could have been said as cold, not inviting with kinks to be worked out too. But it didn’t take long to fill it up. Beijing had doubled its passenger count in 5 years. T3’s designed capacity is 45 to 50 million. It won’t take long to fill that one up if you consider,

    * China’s major hubs PEK, PVG and CAN all have had major upgrades recently. We’re at a very rare time in history that all 3 hubs are not severely constrained.
    * The ban on new startup airlines will be over in 2010.

    As crazy as it may sound, Beijing will be building a new airport soon. There are just that many people who want to fly in China if you give them the infrastructure.

  41. tontp4 Says:

    a little late to join the discussion.
    * look at india. you can tell they’re still talking about big projects while many have been done in china.
    * i’ve been to china and see so many new airports.
    * us is misusing their resources for sure.

  42. Ramachandra Sakhadeo Says:

    To tontp4
    Dear Sir,
    Have you been to India recently ? in the past ? it appears that you have not visited in the recent past. India is doing good work in so far is practicable in a democracy esp.where there is a very strong and articulate lobby against constructing mega projects. Moreover, India was beset with a differently oriented beaurocracy which believed in protecting themselves first and used to think along the lines of their British Civil Service predecessors. This set up was very strong and it took a lot of efforts on the part of Mr.Narasimha Rao our late prime minister and Mr.Manmohan Singh our current prime minister to dismantle the rigid rules and old age thinking. India is not a monolith of a country as China is and was beset with a huge backlog of Poverty,Illiteracy, lack of scientific temperament,strong institutions of education etc. when it liberated itself from the British Rule. It is only now that things have started moving.Make no mistake about it-India will move as fast as China soon enough.Meanwhile let us not compare apples with non-apples.

  43. ali shahed Says:

    tanks for your kind to inform me a new projects

  44. TonyP4 Says:

    #42. I hope you’re right.

    You do not have to go to India. I’ve many Indian coworkers when I worked in IT. Just turn on the TV, read some newspaper (like Wall Street Journey) and countless articles on India from the web.

    As my same words to Chinese, dumb nationalism is just dumb.

    Same for Chinese, the only way we can improve ourselves is to find out what’s wrong with ourselves.

    Many Indians compare India to China, but not the other way round – just goggle ‘India China compare’. Yesterday, Wall Street Journal has an article about Indian taxi system tries to catch up with Shanghai by 2020. Is it progress or lack of progress? Is the yardstick too high or too low? You be the judge.

  45. Daniel Says:

    CCTV building is a disappointing monster building in Beijing, it would be better to build the landmark building which stands tallest and having largest Mall as it is in the capital of China.

  46. Naveen Says:

    @ TonyP4 Hi..China has a lot of infrastructural growth. No doubt about it. It is certainly way ahead of India in terms of infrastructural development and it has certainly helped a lot for boosting its economy. But its not appropriate to compare the growth in India with that of China. China has a more authoritarian political system. If the Govt decided to build something, it goes ahead and builds it but in India the Govt does not rule the ppl but the Govt represents the ppl. So it has less authority to build what ever it wants. This system has a lot of negative impacts on the growth rate of India. But this does not mean that India is not growing. The infrastructural developments are going on but at a slower phase and in a more proportionate rate For example when the metro project is announced, it is being carried out not just in Mumbai or Delhi but in all the major cities. This means that in 10 years time we will metros is Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Kochi, Chennai, Pune, Goa and many other cities. This is the kind of development we Indians want. We require unified development. We dont want just Mumbai or Delhi to develop and create a situation where people from Kerala have to move to Delhi for a better life like the situation in Shanghai. We will build tall buildings and long bridges but all in good time. Remember a Rapid growth have a more chance for a Rapid downfall.

  47. Nimrod Says:


    Good point about the importance of balanced development in all regions. However, it’s not for the lack of want that China’s development is less balanced, but due to geography. India is geographically blessed with coasts and plains everywhere, but China is not. China’s interior and west lag in development due to geographical barriers, the vast distances between settlements, and the remoteness of some regions. Given that, much of China’s infrastructure development has actually been targeted at and to the benefit of amending this situation. From the earliest days of third-line defense installations to modern-day Western development with railways, roads, airports, much of the infrastructure money has actually been spent to bring the interior and western regions into the connected economic system.

    Actually China has many large cities. Shanghai and Beijing stand out not because the rest of the cities (even second tier ones) are not well developed compared to cities around the world. It just means Shanghai and Beijing are super developed — overly so. Ten cities in China have subway systems, the earliest (Beijing) since 1969, the newest (Shenyang) since 2008, and the longest (Shanghai) since 1995. The current plan is to triple the subway system by 2015. Sometimes authoritarian efficiency can only be credited so much. Maybe it’s more a matter of China (as a nation) knowing what it wants (national revitalization and redemption) and delivering on it.

  48. Naveen Says:


    I must have given a wrong impression. I did not mean to say that there is unbalanced development in China. I was aware of the developments of various other cities in China like Guongdong, Shenzhen etc. My opinions were strictly on the nature of development in India and it was not a comparison because there is no point in comparing these two Countries. Both have different political situations and both are in different stages of development. As an Indian I wish we can adopt some of the aspects of development that the Chinese have adopted but I do not wish to follow them because that is not what our Country needs. It doesnt mean that China is going in a wrong direction. It is going in a direction which it needs. I do not support some of the comparison studies and comments being posted on such blogs that says “ok China have the worlds tallest tower and the longest bridge but India does not have any”. For me it doesnt make much sense. India will have a long bridges and tall buildings but I dont want India to adopt a policy to build the tallest building just to impress foreign minds. This is a very complicated topic, a debate which will never end. Should a Country like India divert its resources to a more practical development projects or luxurious show offs which we can be proud of for a shorter period of time?

  49. Nimrod Says:


    Although I don’t think most of the stuff in China is done for short-term show-off, some are, or have that aspect to them beyond the practical need. What I mean is this: “mega” projects in China are more in the spirit of Soviet engineering than Dubai flaunting. They result from a need to tackle large problems. Perhaps a bit bold, perhaps too much belief in triumph of man over nature, perhaps some misallocation of resources, but for the most part they aren’t justified merely on the grounds of showing off. Sometimes that line is blurred due to the marriage of form and function. Beijing and Shanghai spent a lot of money on the Olympics and the World Expo, respectively, but most went to improve the urban setting, e.g. add transportation options, clean up pollution, etc. Yet some went to fancy venues, and there, the thought was to leave something interesting rather than ugly boxes, since many people in China saw it like, they weren’t going to be hold another Olympics any time soon, so might as well make the most of it.

    Of course there were other people who said these events shouldn’t have been held in the first place and the money should have gone into building schools and reducing tuition. These are highly valid concerns, and it is shameful for China’s own ideals (i.e. forget about comparing with other countries) that more hasn’t been done to help the most disadvantaged. But the point is, these things are not mutually exclusive. It can be part of a virtuous cycle where more begets more. If we say the Beijing Olympics was a turning point in China’s relationship with the world, how much was that worth in investment and trade that will ultimately benefit everybody? Can’t put a price tag on it.

    I agree that it doesn’t have sense to say “China or India has this, but India or China doesn’t”. To each his own is fair 😀 People have different priorities, be they material or spiritual. I just hope that it is the case that, whatever India wants to accomplish, it is doing so by meeting its own goals. My impression was that for a long time, it has not been the case.

  50. Buru Says:

    Beijings projects are truly impressive…but I also get the impression that while the PRC is indeed producing results there is often an air of showiness ,like, ‘look, we are also as good as the West’ sort of presentation while implementing many mega-budget projects.Case in point is the Maglev, Shanghai– its atrociously expensive, connects a short distance and not used with great succcess anywhere-even in its country of origin.Was it really necessary to put it up in a developing country where many are still living on a few dollars a day? I am also really surprised how some parts of the country has gleaming 1st world cities but remaining major chunks has hundreds of millions living on 3rd world incomes but without any(apparent) social unrest?
    I think China should chase itself and not the West as a model.

    As for India its funny to hear lame excuses like ‘democracy’ and even the ‘British bureaucracy’ to explain its retarded progress! Perhaps we would like to know how democracy prevented the West from developing, or how the British bureaucracy prevented the Brits from developing LOL!

  51. Nimrod Says:


    When you get right down to it, Chinese are a very pragmatic people, to the point of pliancy. As long as things are looking up, people are happy to work hard and get somewhere. Some neo-liberal nationalists complain about this a lot, but they blame Deng Xiaoping, saying his white-cat black-cat anything goes philosophy is tantamount to a surrender to not only Western capitalism but a wholesale sellout of Mao’s home-grown self-sufficiency and a loss of Chinese backbone, for petty profit. Well, one can argue about that, but Chinese people seem mostly happy with material improvement and global integration. (Personally I think that at a footprint of 1/5 of the world’s population, it doesn’t really take isolation to keep China’s basic cultural character; and if it did, then it must be something really backwards so no need to worry.)

    So here’s the thing. China is always seems to be trying to impress the Western “advanced” countries, that’s true. But is it really? Part of it is cultural, e.g. being a good host to all comers; part of it is realism, e.g. genuine respect for what the West has accomplished; part of it is just good business sense, e.g. you put your best foot forward and get orders and make money; and part of it is self-motivation, e.g. whatever could impress “Westerners” is a good yardstick for progress. Was the maglev a face project to impress Westerners though? Shanghai maglev was basically a short demonstration line to decide which technology — bullet train or maglev — should be committed for the high speed national transport network then planned. Both technologies were expensive and had political issues, like which country to license the technology from, France? Germany? Japan? The decision has been made in favor of bullet train, as we from the high speed rail now entering service. China got some technology out of Germany at least. As for the Shanghai line itself, yeah, low ridership is a minor problem compared to huge maintenance costs. The former can only be fixed by extending the line which sounds like doubling down. Unfortunately it’s hard to know these things until you build it.

  52. r v Says:

    Maglev was an experimental project, to prove that China could build such a complex engineering project. The intent was obviously to have the domestic capability to do such a complex engineering project in the future.

    Funny enough, recently, California was talking about building its own maglev. One of the leading bidder of that project is a Chinese company! If people want to know what China gained from the maglev project in Shanghai, obviously, the demonstration in Shanghai is a powerful message that “China did it, China can do it again.” Whether Chinese companies can win contracts outside of China is a small issue, the proof is in Shanghai.

  53. Naveen Says:

    I was travelling the other day in a cab in Shanghai. The cab driver asked where I am from. I said I’m from India. He said wow! In 20 years India will be the number one Country in the world. In ten years China would be the number one Country in the world. To be frank I did not care about both these Countries being number one in the world but I want these two nations to join hands and move forward together.
    I see a lot of hate videos in Youtube saying “why china hates India” or “why India hates China”. When i look through the comments on these videos I saw a lot abuses from either side and also some provocative comments from users calling themselves Pakistanis. I cant stop from thinking why these people have spent so much of their time for creating nothing but hate?? Patriotism does not mean you have to hate another Country. It means you have to love your Country. I am an Indian and I dont hate Chinese. I know a lot of Chinese who are not even thinking on this matter because they are not aware of such hatred. Very complicated to think that who would be responsible for such vidoes and comments??

  54. Nimrod Says:

    How Chinese and Indians view each other. Now that’s another topic whose controversy potential is rivalled perhaps only by how Chinese and Africans view each other, how Chinese view outmarriage, and how Chinese view each other.

  55. Buru Says:

    Nimrod and rv,

    the Chinese nation can gain more respect( and faith in its ability) from the whole world and not just the West, by working bottom-up, rather than via top-down semi-useless projects like the Maglev ,is my point.

    When the world sees better quality in the varied Chinese-manufactured products flooding every country that day China would have truly arrived. Till then flashy projects like the Maglev will produce a tinge of scorn mixed with respect.
    While mega-projects like 3G dam will serve to both demonstrate Chinese tech prowess while being of actual benefit to the nation,projects like Maglev doesnt appear to serve either.

    #54 Nimrod– my personal(biased) opinion from first-hand experience– Indians jealously envy the achievements of Chinese but feel superior anyway bcos’ of presumed Chinese barbarity/cruelty in eating inedible items like insects,reptiles, amphibians etc This is often the topic of comedians here.
    Chinese( not just PRC Chinese) feel they are the most superior race/nation( but never spoken out openly) and generally has a great distaste for the Indians (purported)body smell,body hairs, dark skin and dishonesty.

  56. TonyP4 Says:

    I got a recent reply on my post written in Oct. last year. Statistics never lies.
    * Around 1950, India had more rail road track and trains than China. Now, the other way round. We even have the unbelievable rail way to Tibet.

    * The first sub way is only opened recently in one major city in India. I was in China 6 years ago, there were subways in many major cities. They have been aggressively extended recently.

    * China will have more than the combined total of HSR in the rest of the world. India is planning the first one.

    * When you see the pictures of the Indians staying on the top and the holding on to both sides of the train on holidays, it reminds of the crowed trains during the New Year holiday but not a single one rides on the top of the train.

    * India’s Tier I cities cannot catch up with Tier II and III cities in China. Compare the high rises for residency and business, you will find we’re not comparing apples to oranges not to mention thousands of new bridges, roads…

    India has poor governance. The two nations are both hard working and smart. In 30 years, China has improved a lot. Chinese seldom compare themselves with India but with the west as it is a better target to shoot for. Based on the last 30 years, India will have a long, long way to catch up with China, esp. if they still do not understand their problems.

  57. M.V.Sonavane Says:

    After seeing these beutiful pictures one gets tempted to know detais
    i) agency who completed the Project ii0 Client iii) estmated & actual cost iv) period of comletion & future mega project planning.

    Congrats for excellence .

  58. TonyP4 Says:

    The mega projects are usually initiated by the government and financed by the banks (most are influenced heavily by the government). Olympics and Expo and its associated infrastructure have been completed recently in a large scale few cities in our history have experienced.

    There are many new projects: new highways, HSR, bridges, airports… However, from my point of view, most of these projects have not been evaluated financially (like rate of return), but are used to provide jobs to reduce unrest. The newer projects have started about one year ago with the stimulation money (about $586 billions US). Another major infrastructure project connecting South China is under-way – I do not know the current status. It is huge! Most are not financially feasible for short-term (like 20 years).

    I do not agree with many points with Naveen. The projects will not fail as they’re pretty much financed indirectly by the government and the government has a lot of money and foreign reserve. By the time India has a subway in every Tier city, China has a subway in every Tier III city. Same are train, highway, HSR, high rises… Reality check: does India have an airport in every Tier I city and China has in every Tier III city today? If they do, I bet China’s airport is far, far more modern than the India’s airport.


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