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Scenes of the Development of Modern China

East West Dialogue

Gondolas in Venice; Actual size=240 pixels wide

Artist's Portrayal of the Three Gorges Dam

A sunset; Actual size=240 pixels wide

Construction is underway of what will be the largest dam in the world.

A sunset; Actual size=240 pixels wide

The locks will be the size of the locks on the Panama Canal.

Three Gorges Dam Approaching Completion!

Workers have begun to dismantle the "coffer dam," an earthern wall which has kept the huge construction site dry. Now, the Three Gorges Dam is complete enough to begin holding back waters of the Yangtze. Tearing down the 81.5-meter-tall coffer dam will take bulldozers and cranes five months. The dam, to be finished in June 2003, will be 190 metres tall and more than 2 kilometres long. Its reservoir will be filled by stages until it reaches 660 kilometers in length in 2009.

China Leads the World in Economic Development

Recently, a friend of mine returned to his native city of Kunming, China, after being away for only 5 years. He informed me that he could not believe the changes that had taken place in those 5 years. The city had been tremendously built up. The conditions of life for most the residents had improved, substantially.

The Chinese economy has grown the fastest of any nation during the recent period. In 2001, the Chinese economy is estimated to have expanded at a rate of 7.3%, surpassing Italy, to become the sixth largest economy in the world.

However, the rate of growth has been slowing down, in large part due to the global crisis. China's 7.3% growth rate for 2001, was down from over 10 % during the previous year. The most dramatic decline was in exports. In 2000 Chinese exports expanded 27.8% from the previous year, but in 2001, they expanded only about 4%. This year Chinese exports may decline.

This decline in exports represents a very serious problem since the Chinese have oriented their economy heavily toward exports. The value of China's annual exports is around 20% of the nations GDP.

China's "New Deal"

Chinese leaders are among the few leaders in the world who have responded to the crisis with an appropriate strategy. In 1998, responding to the crisis that hit most Southeast Asian nations, China launched a program of internal improvements, which they compared to the "New Deal" of American's depression era President Franklin D Roosevelt. The government is currently issuing special treasury bonds at a rate of around $18 billion a year to fund major infrastructure projects.

Among the projects currently underway are the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River, the Qinghai-Tibet railway, a natural gas transmission pipeline from Xinjiang to Shanghai, and the construction of a magnetically levitated train from Shanghai to the Shanghai airport. Other projects will be launched soon, including a major water diversion plan to bring water from the South to the dry, densely populated North.

China's leaders recognize that the crisis that they are facing in the new year is far more serious that the 1998 crisis, which hit the nations of Southeast Asia especially hard. The Japanese economy opens the new year sliding into what is already the worst crisis since the Great Depression. The governments of Europe and the United States have given no indication of any competent program to deal with the crisis. Their economies are not far behind Japan.

Although the decision of the Chinese to emphasize the development of the domestic economy was correct, that will not be enough, given the magnitude of the crisis. Therefore China must find collaborators who are willing to launch a world wide "New Deal," to serve as an engine for economic recovery. This requires economic reforms to control global speculation and development projects.

It is from this standpoint that collaboration with other nations, in projects such as the Eurasian Land-Bridge is so crucial. This is a project to link the entire Eurasian continent with railroads and other infrastructure. China, Russia and the nations of Central Asia have already begun this effort. The participation of the nations of Europe and the United States, as well, would be to everyone's benefit.

Gondolas in Venice; Actual size=240 pixels wide

The German magnetically levitated train will soon begin operations between downtown Shanghai and the Shanghai airport. This will be the first in the world.

Maglev Train to Begin Operations in 2003!

Construction is underway for the world's first magnetically levitated train, that will run from Shanghai to the Shanghai airport at Pudong. The Transrapid is produced by the German firm Thyssen. The construction is a joint German Chinese project. The Chinese are proceeding with the construction at a break neck speed, with the entire project expected to be completed in two years.

The construction of the Shanghai-Pudong line is expected to spur on other projects. The Chinese are considering a 1,2000 km line from Beijing to Shanghai. Some expect that, perhaps even the West may be shamed into building maglev trains. All previous projects to build maglev trains in the West have been either cancelled, or never gotten off the drawing boards.

China's top planner:
GDP growth in 2002 will reach 7 %

Zeng Peiyan, the minister of the State Development Planning Commission, and China's top economic planner, said that China would be able to reach a growth rate of 7 % during 2002. "We are capable of maintaining the current growth momentum,'' Zeng Peiyan, minister of the State Development Planning Commission, told a press conference held by the Information Office of the State Council.

Zeng said the government will stimulate the economy by issuing special treasury bonds to finance infrastructure projects, especially in the country's western regions. This policy is consistent with the Chinese governments correct emphasis on a 'New Deal' economic strategy , that China adopted in response to the global economic crisis.

The largest water project in history is launched.

China is now beginning the construction of the largest water project, in the history of China, and probably the world, which will divert water from the Yangtze River to the dry northern regions. "To date, preparation and initial spadework for the long-awaited project have been completed. It is the largest of its kind in China's history, and will rectify the uneven distribution of water resources in the country -- a chronic bottleneck for the sustainable development of the economy," Wang Shucheng, minister of water resources, said on January 16, 2002. The project is estimated to eventually cost around $ 18 billion. The project will be built in sections over a period of years.