Joe Zhang

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The Disintegration of Rural China

On a trip home late last year to the rural Chinese village of my childhood, I found my brother tying a military knife under his belt as he was leaving the house. I asked why he needed a knife, and he replied, “It is not as safe here as before.”

The peaceful and idyllic village I grew up in, like many of China’s rural towns, has been brought to ruins by the breakdown of traditional social norms that followed decades of failed policies and neglect by the state. Many of my contemporary fellow villagers would prefer to go back to the old days.…  Seguir leyendo »

In May, a deputy mayor of a midsize city in central China flew down to see me in Shenzhen, where I sit on a government advisory panel for financing small and medium-sized businesses. He wanted a favor. “Can you help arrange financing for our sports center?” he asked. It’s going to be one of the largest in central China.”

It was another tale of woe about a half-finished project in desperate need of more money. I’d heard this song before.

After Lehman Brothers fell in 2008, the Chinese government panicked and unleashed an ambitious stimulus program by expanding public works projects to build roads, railroads and municipal buildings.…  Seguir leyendo »