China’s Boomtowns

The current National Geographic has a fascinating feature on capitalism in China’s boomtowns, cities like Lishui that are growing so fast that city planners have razed 108 hilltops to accomodate the runaway growth.

The
government motto of the Lishui Economic Development Zone is “Each
person does the work of two; two days’ work is done in one.” The slogan
may be too modest. From 2000 to 2005, the city’s population went from
160,000 to 250,000, and the local government invested 8.8 billion
dollars in infrastructure for the region it administers. During those
five years, infrastructure investment was five times the amount spent
in the previous half century. In money terms, what was once 50 days’
work is now done in one.


For the past three decades, China’s
economy has averaged nearly 10 percent annual growth. The economy is
fueled by the largest migration the world has ever seen: An estimated
140 million rural Chinese have already left their homes, and another 45
million are expected to join the urban workforce in the next five
years.

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