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The Short March - Chinese Suburbs

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The Short March - into the Chinese Suburbs

China is creating its own suburban tragedy



TIME magazine celebrates it - as a cover story on the Far eastern version of the magazine


175_china_suburbs_tout.jpg : more photos

Life in China's Suburbs

TIME Senior Writer Bill Powell, who moved to a town outside Shanghai in 2006, talks about joining the millions of Chinese who are building the country's booming suburbs


/link: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/...1713336,00.html





+ I stood on the deck that day and watched one of the farmers who worked the watermelon patch, an older woman who would later introduce herself to us as Liu Yi, as she stared back at me across the river. I remember thinking to myself, My god, what must be going through her mind? Not only is the land she works on about to disappear, but there's this foreigner standing over there staring at her. Where did he come from and, more to the point, what in the world is he doing out here? The short answer is that my wife and I have become a tiny part of China's latest revolution. We got an off-the-shelf mortgage from the Standard Chartered Bank branch in town, plunked down 25% of the purchase price, and bought ourselves a piece of the Great Chinese Dream.


+ As some 300-400 million people from dirt-poor farming regions made their way to relative prosperity in cities. Within the contours of that great migration, however, there is another one now about to take place — less visible, but arguably no less powerful. As China's major cities — there are now 49 with populations of one million or more, compared with nine in the U.S. in 2000 — become more crowded and more expensive, a phenomenon similar to the one that reshaped the U.S. in the aftermath of World War II has begun to take hold. That is the inevitable desire among a rapidly expanding middle class for a little bit more room to live, at a reasonable price; maybe a little patch of grass for children to play on, or a whiff of cleaner air as the country's cities become ever more polluted.


+ In Shanghai alone, urban planners believe some 5 million people will move to what are called "satellite cities" in the next 10 years. To varying degrees, the same thing is happening all across China. This process — China's own suburban flight — is at the core of the next phase of this country's development, and will be for years to come.


The consequences of this suburbanization are enormous. Think of how the U.S. was transformed, economically and socially, in the years after World War II, when GIs returned home and formed families that then fanned out to the suburbs. The comparison is not exact, of course, but it's compelling enough. The effects of China's suburbanization are just beginning to ripple across Chinese society and the global economy. It's easy to understand the persistent strength in commodity prices — steel, copper, lumber, oil — when you realize that in Emerald Riverside construction crews used more than three tons of steel in the houses and nearly a quarter of a ton of copper wiring. There are 35 housing developments either just finished or still under construction in New Songjiang alone, a town in which 500,000 people will eventually live.



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"The Short March": This article makes me very angry.

It is truly sad that the "senior editor" of time cannot see the outline of the tragedy that he is participating in!


In trying to "escape from pollution" in the urban environment, he is doing his part to create more pollution, and a terrible addiction to oil, that is dragging down the living standard of America, and if this suburbanization trend continues, will hit China too. It is very sad that such an icon of the mainstream, as Time magzine is, cannot do a better job of spreading some enlightenment about the suburbs, which is J.H. Kunstler puts it, is "a living arrangement with no future".

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(a posting from the HPC version of this thread):


Isn't the suburbanisation of China's big cities inevitable surely as they get wealthier ?

At least the Chinese do have an element of planning involved (compare & contrast with India!) ; the article mentions light railways etc This is what happened when Europe suburbanised, London's suburbs were built around the Underground or Overground Railways systems same in Berlin, Madrid, & Paris. Hopefully they will avoid the fate of Los Angeles, Houston and other US cities where unplanned suburban sprawl with no useful public transport seems to be the norm.


I agree that Europe has built better suburbs than the US.

And the US is now just waking up to the nightmare it has created by building its suburbs

around the concept that "Cars Come First", before pedestrians (and bicycles!)


"Cars Are Last" is a rallying cry for the future of New Urban design

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Tell us a story about the suburbs


Do you live in a suburb?

Do you work or go to school in one?

What is your experience of the "burbs?"


Whether you love them or hate them we're interested in your thoughts on the phenomenon of the American suburb. The Walker Art Center invites you to make a 5-minute video about strip malls, cul-de-sacs, office parks, and green lawns or whatever suburbia means to you. A select number of videos will be chosen to screen as part of the exhibition Worlds Away: New Suburban Landscapes on view at the Walker from February 15 to May 18, 2008.


To participate, upload your video to YouTube and add the tag "walkerworldsaway" or post it as a response to this video. We'll feature *all* videos on the Walker's YouTube page. To be considered for gallery screening, entries must be 5 minutes or less and be online by January 18, 2008.


If you have any questions, email witt(dot)siasoco(at)walkerart(dot)org. (less)


/see: http://www.youtube.com/user/walkerartcenter

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One can only laugh.


On the HPC thread, certain posters have descended to a farcical level, saying that anyone who owns more than one or two properties, or ever flies in an aircraft, should not be permitted to criticise China's adoption on the outmoded suburban living model.


I cannot see how they are related, but in the juvenile brain reside some strange thoughts...




I think she has a point. If one in ten of the population in any City owned eight properties like you do then it would be unfair and the lowest paid would suffer as in the UK.


Judge your individual actions as though everyone else will copy you. Then you will realise what multiple home ownership and multiple flights are FUNDAMENTALLY UNSUSTAINABLE.


A laughable abd childish attitude !

My tenants are happy to have a place to rent, and lack the capital to buy at market prices right now, as I also lacked the capital when I was renting years ago. Eventually, I saved enough money to buy one, and started with my first property investment, paying two years of salary for a tiny place, which was cheaper to own than renting, as it is now in HK. When I bought property number one all those years ago in New York City, I was grateful that there was a secondary market, which had been created by investors buy and selling, with some having paid for a new property, and then sold it off later, and it eventually reached a price I could afford. Capitalism created the market that I entered when I bough my first NYC property. I paid attention to the cycle, and bought when it was cheap, and i recommend that others follow this same discipline- buying when the market timing is right, not when their "biological clock" or a TV programme, or peer pressure tells them that the time is right. In short, acting as an adult, in a serious and free marketplace.


Another point you should consider is this: For all the properties I have bought (save one), I acquired the properties from people who bought them new, and paid more, than the price they sold to me. Selling was a voluntary act. Indeed they were pleased to sell, because I gave them "liquidity"- hard cash - when they wanted to liquidate their property investments.


Hong kong is an unabashed capitalistic, and free place, where outmoded and ridiculous "anti-BTL" attitudes would be laughed off, mocked, or rubbished by everyone, owners or renters. Certainly not taken seriously. The doing things, pro-business attitude here is a reason for its success. Having said that, people are here now waking up to green consciousness, which my website and frequent postings here and on GEI are doing their best to promote, whatever a handful of silly juveniles here may think.

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FACTS & FIGURES on OIL - from today's China Daily



China's net imports of crude oil climbed to 159.28 million tons last year ... (x7 = x.x billion barrels)

That's up 14.7 percent. Some 46 percent of China's crude oil consumption is met by imports.


"Higher oil prices means China will have to pay substantially more for imports.

This is not so serious a problem at the moment when the country is trying to slow its accumulation

of a trade surplus.


But the extra cost that the current energy pricing mechanism (i.e nearly fixed prices on refined oil

products) will incur to keep the lid on domestic oil prices is worrisome."


The cost of government andrefiners cost to support lower domestic oil prices...

Estimated at Rmb 170 billion in 2007 (0.9% of GDP), and growing in 2008.


"A market-oriented reform of the oil-pricing system is long overdue."

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