Wrote this the other day, and posted it in the wrong place, so here it is now. 🙂
What is it with the Chinese and digging holes. I remember people complaining about road works back home, but you need to come here to truly appreciate holes. Every day is a guessing game. What way can’t I go today? Which road is closed? Can I get home?
The other night I was walking back to my apartment and found that there was no possible way for me to get across the road (and to my home) as mechanical diggers had dug a huge pit; where the road once was, is now a mountain of earth -building rubble and dirt.
It’s the same with buildings too. You never know when a building might just disappear. Workers with pick-axes and sledge-hammers taking each brick apart, one-by-one, ready to be re-used elsewhere. Such labour intensive work would never exist in the West – it’s just not economically viable. Where as here it is viable, wages are so low, and there is no shortage of labour. However the work is shoddy, (like most construction in China) the work is often unfinished and the ground left strewn with bricks and various other bits of debris.
It’s amazing how things change so fast, but also disturbing.
No doubt, digging holes is a superb way of over-employing, just give everone a spade and that’s it. When there’s hundreds of millions of migrant workers looking for work, creating jobs becomes a priority.
Afterall everywhere has the potential to be dug-up, the options are almost endless.
Due to the extreme weather conditions in Changchun, nothing much gets done during the winter and spring. Then come May, construction starts again. There are hoards of migrant workers who come to Changchun during the summer months, they provide the labour that is needed if all of the projects are to be finished. They must have a very tough life, they follow the work, if this means travelling 1000s of miles then so be it, they have little choice (600million of them! ). The workers are put up in refugee camp like tents, that are erected at the side of the road or near to a construction site. It shows just how messed up this country is, when the workers are building thousands and thousands of new apartments, and they live in tents with no sanitation or electricity. In Changchun there are thousands and thousands of new apartments being built, most remain empty. Where I live many of the apartments are empty, and the price of them is too high for most to afford. Maybe they will become more affordable in the future, though I doubt it. It seems that the Chinese property developers would rather leave an apartment empty for years than allow it to be rented or lower the price and make a lesser profit, i don’t think they really understand the basics of demand and supply.
This is a problem all across China, many of the tower blocks in the major cities (Beijing Shanghai etc…) are empty – there is not significant enough demand for so much office space – yet they continue to build. To the outsider, one would think that this is an amazing rate of progress, and that China is expanding at a rapid pace – But personally I think a lot of it is based on a false economy, and that it only a matter of time before it all starts to crumble in on itself. A common trick made by developers is to get bank loans to complete a building, and to not finish the building (pocketing most of the cash) then declare themselves bankrupt and or disappear. Then do the same thing in another province, and so on. There is no credit system in place, so loans are often given based on social status or relationships – guanxi 关系. That’s one of the reasons why there are so many unfinished projects and half-completed buildings in Changchun, and all over China.
Go to the main page