Skip to comments.Intelligent Design: Two Weeks in Chengdu and Environs
Posted on 02/12/2019 4:20:25 AM PST by vannrox
Vi and I have just returned from Chengdu, a Chinese village of seventeen million and the gateway to Tibet. Since China is of some interest to the US these days, I thought a description of sorts, actually more in the nature of a disordered travelog, might be of interest. I hadnt been to the country for twelve years and, before that, not since living in Taiwan in the mid-Seventies. Each time, the changes were astonishing. Herewith some notes:
A caveat: we never got more than three hundred miles from the city and do not pretend to describe the country beyond what we saw.
Despite Trumps trade war we had no problems in getting visas in Guadalajara or getting through customs in Chengdu. Nobody showed us the slightest hostility. Although China is assuredly a dictatorship and vigorously represses dissent, we saw virtually no police. A friend who lived in Chngdu for several years until recently asserts that there is close to zero street crime. (White collar crime is a very different matter, he said, and seems built into Chinese culture. There are books on this.)
China is often described as a developing country. Well, sort of. Chengdu is decidedly of the First World, modern, muscular, appearing to have been recently built because it was. The downtown is beautiful, at least as cities go, and livable. In many hours of walking aimlessly we encountered everything from elegant high-end stores selling upscale Western bands to noodle shops. It is not a poor city. A considerable number of people wear worn clothes and clearly are not overly prosperous, but nobody looked hungry and most appeared middle class. We saw no beggars or homeless people of the sort common in the US. Whether this is because there arent any, or because the government doesnt allow them on the streets, I do not know.
For anyone who knows what China was before Deng Xiaoping took over in 1978, after Mao made his greatest contribution to his countryhe diedthe growth of prosperity astouds. Many criticisms may be made of the Chinese government, some of them valid, but no other government has lifted so many people out of poverty so fast.
When I lived in Taiwan, I wondered why the Chinese, especially the mainlanders, were so backward. They seemed to have been so almost forever, certainly since well before Legation days. At the time Taiwan had a Five Year Plan for development, but so did all sorts of dirtball counties, mostly consisting of a patch of jungle, a colonel, and a torture chamber.
I noted, though, it the reader will forgive me a digression: Taiwan was actually meeting its Plan. In the Thirld World of the time, this was a novel idea. The Jin Shan reactors were going in, the new port, the steel mill.,the highway. I interviewed the head of the nuclear program for the Far Eastern Economic ReviewHarvard guy. Other officials were from MIT. Idi Amin they were not.
Young and dumb as I wasthe two being barely distinguishableI thought Hong Kong looked like Manhattan with slanted eyes, hardball financial turf, and I knew Taiwanese students in America were excelling in science courses. I concluded that Mousy Dung was the greatest American patriot who ever lived since, if he ever stopped holding these people back, what has happened might.
But back to Chengeu.
A perfectly stunning number of clusters of apartment buildings like theseis swarm on the horizon. The only roundeye I met who lived in one said that her apartment was quite nice.
The first thing we noticed in the city was the enormous scale of everything. Buildings downtown were huge. The elevated highways everywhere were huge. The numbers of people were huge. There were literally hundreds of hugely tall apartment buildings. The principle seemed to be that if you have too many people to spread them out, stack them up. Said a Chinese guide we hired, they werent there twenty years ago.
Conspicuous to both Violeta and me was evidence of Intelligent Design. Chengdu clearly did not evolve randomly as cities do in the West. Somebody thought about things beforehand. The overhead highways kept heavy traffic flowing. Very wide sidewalks downtown made pedestrianism pleasant. The subway was nothing special but well designed to be easy to use even if you dont know how. (Well, it does have sliding glass doors to keep you away from the tracks until the train comes. This way, you ccan t throw things onto the tracks, such as your mother-in-law.)
The guy is a liberal, and makes fun of conservatives. Aside from those MAJOR faults, his report is seemingly an honest one.
Show city based on central planning.
I live there 50% of the time. It’s a fascinating city. Thanks for posting this!
I visited chengdu, and chongqing back in 2013. I really enjoyed it there, and everyone was so nie and friendly. We went to see the pandas but we went at the wrong time of the day, and they were all resting and hiding. I really did like those little red pandas that looked like long tailed cats.
I like Zhuhai, but chungdu is a great place to live, and central to all sorts of outstanding natural and scenic sights.
We went to get a massage and the gals told us that they loved chengdu because the flight out were so fantastically cheap. This is because the panda bears are a world heritage site. cool huh?
villages in China are big because some of their factories employ 500,000, the factories are big because China has at least 1.3 billion people.
Scale is everything
It sounds like “village” is being used as a term of art, rather than in its standard usage, which is “a municipality smaller than a town, which is smaller than a city.”
What China has done in the last 30 years is impressive.
Is it a threat to the U.S.A.?
Much of the improvement was planned in the West, and was done with stolen U.S. technology.
But, the U.S. did similar things as we caught up to and surpassed Great Britain.
I have said the U.S. Interstate system is the greatest mass transit system in the History of Man.
But, 24,000 miles of fast train can give it competition.
Over the past year, I’ve watched probably 20 hours of YouTube videos of Chengdu, South African guy who has settled into the landscape there and really talks to the positives of the city. As he hints strongly...the city authorities have an image that is beyond anything else in China and it’s based on people having few complaints to whine about.
The thing that gets me is that it’s in the middle of nowhere (nowhere near the coast), and since 1980 (at 2.5 million population then)....it’s grown at an enormous pace.
Fred is far from a liberal, at least in the modern sense. A modern liberal would be horrified by this:
Are White Men Gods? (II): Getting the Facts Straight
Dujiangyan water system is also an amazing world heritage site. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dujiangyan
“They go through mountains. We went throughIll guess and say a dozentunnels, all of four lanes, all miles long (one said to be nine miles) lighted and straight. This was done in two parallel tunnels, each carrying two lanes in one direction or another. Valleys? We crossed them on bridges or elevated highways.”
They fooled him. They’re actually really short tunnels but on the highway they have you continue to go through the same tunnel multiple times, just so it feels long - like the old Soviet military parades in Red Square when the tanks and long guns went by, then went around the block and went by again and again, only to look like they had many more than they did. As to their long bridges over ravines and valleys - that’s all fake too, just painted backdrop 20 below road level. They don’t fool me!
As to the high speed trains, they only make you THINK you’re going fast, but that’s because the cities are actually really close to each other, despite what they publish on their fake maps. For example, Google Maps says it’s 720 miles between Beijing and Shanghai, but it’s really only about 150 miles according to my sources, so when their so-called high speed train gets you between these backwards cities in 3 hours, you really only traveled 50 miles per hour, not the 240 miles per hour they claim. Heck, Amtrak even does better than that. They don’t fool me - not for a minute!
(At some point it might be a good idea to take China seriously, they’re not hiding what they’ve done - pretty much any American can visit there, and it can be extremely cheap, just look on Groupon, for example)
How much of China’s progress was paid for with American trade debt?
The same can be said of India.
Interesting report. Describing most of the Chinese as middle class is a bit of a stretch. The per capita income of China is only about $8,827 (2017), while the U.S. per capita income is $60,200 (2017) and Japan’s is $45,470 (2017). Even Russia’s is higher at $11,441.
China’s purchasing power parity per capita income is higher at $16,760 (2017), as is Russia’s at $24,893 (2017)
I have traveled into the hinterlands of Liaoning one of the three Manchurian provinces in the far northeast. It is quite primitive and the standard of living is much lower than what you see in the provincial capital of Shenyang. The modern highways are far away and the roads are third world quality. Farming is still done with oxen.
The quality of housing and life is much lower, too. Even in Shenyang, exterior and interiors of many buildings appear to have never been painted since the original coat of paint. You quickly get used to having dirty walls as a backdrop.
Liaoning is part of China’s traditional industrial heartland, an important center of coal, steel and equipment manufacturing, which has suffered from restructuring in the modern era, pushing up unemployment to very high levels. The economy shrank in 2016, but rose in 2017 with new investment. Its per capita income, 8,108, is 8% lower than the national average. Reminded me the dirt interior walls and neglected exterior facades of buildings in East Berlin before the wall came down.
By the way in Liaoning, ostensibly a province of Manchu people, 84% of the people are Han Chinese. Only 13% are Manchu. Even so, the mannerisms and culture of the people is still mostly Manchu. Many of the people I met in Liaoning are very outgoing, use their hands a lot when they talk, are expressive. A few are hot-headed but in a delightful, endearing way.
Ping for later.
i was only there for 2 days on business last year. What I was able to see was very impressive. It is the one city in China I want to take my wife to if possible. Shanghai was interesting but Beijing was an overpopulated dump. With about a 1/2 mile visibility on most days.
Again scale - in the west we are used to villages consisting of hundreds or a few thousand but the US population is barely a third of China’s which makes all the difference in the expected population size of a village.
Standards of scale expected in the US, with a population of slightly over 320 million, are different from standards of scale existing in Asian countries with populations over one billion.
There is a you-tube channel worth watching by a guy who has lived there for years...
Its, to me, fascinating. I’ve watched dozens of them.
Yes. China is a wonderful place.
Safe and clean. Peaceful and non threatening.
There are hundreds of the articles from Europe in the 1930s.
If you go back let me know and I’ll give you some tourist ideas. I’ll be back there in 2 weeks.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.