China

Shanghai to Manchuria and Central China by Train

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There is no better way to see China than by train. This is especially true because foreigners are not allowed to drive rental cars without first obtaining a Chinese drivers license. China has developed the world's largest high-speed rail system, which includes one of only three profitable routes in the world, along with Tokyo to Osaka and Paris to Lyon.  read more »

Surprising Ordos: The Evolving Urban Form

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Ordos, in China's Autonomous Region of Inner Mongolia (equivalent to a province) has received international notoriety as a "ghost city." I had already visited one other ghost city and found the reports considerably exaggerated (The Zhengzhou New Area in Henan, a commercial and residential district). But Ordos has received by far the most publicity.  read more »

Around The World, The Tide Is Turning Against Megacities

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The massive construction waste collapse last month in Shenzhen reflects a wider phenomenon: the waning of the megacity era. Shenzhen became a megacity (population over 10 million) faster than any other in history, epitomizing the massive movement of Chinese to cities over the past four decades. Now it appears more like a testament to extravagant delusion.  read more »

China's Navy: A Maritime Power?

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When China’s navy looks beyond its coastal waters, which it increasingly does, it sees a kind of Great Wall. The Chinese call this the “First Island Chain,” a line of islands, some small, others huge, extending from the Japan archipelago to the north, the Ryuku island chain past Taiwan, and the Philippines to the south. The waters within this arc are considered an integral part of China itself.  read more »

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Declining Population Growth in China’s Largest Municipalities: 2010-2014

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After three decades of breakneck urban growth, there are indications of a significant slowdown in the largest cities of China. This is indicated by a review of 2014 population estimates in the annual statistical reports filed individually by municipalities with the National Bureau of Statistics.  read more »

China’s Demographics at a Turning Point

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For decades, the decline in China’s birth rate was a big boost for the economy. What now?

This week, schadenfreude could have been a word invented for China experts if you judge by some of the commentary surrounding the country’s lifting of its one-child policy. Most got it right that the legacy of the one-child policy is now a problem for the Chinese economy because of a rapidly rising old-age dependency ratio (green line in the first chart below). This was tacitly acknowledged by the lifting of the policy.  read more »

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Too Many Places Will Have too Few People

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The adage “demographics are destiny” is increasingly being replaced by a notion that population trends should actually shape policy. As the power of projection grows, governments around the world find themselves looking to find ways to counteract elaborate and potentially threatening population models before they become reality.  read more »

End Of One-Child Policy Is Unlikely To Solve China's Looming Aging Crisis

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By finally backing away from its one-child policy, China would seem to be opening the gates again to demographic expansion. But it may prove an opening that few Chinese embrace, for a host of reasons.

Initially, the one-child policy made great sense. The expansion of China’s power under Mao Zedong was predicated in part on an ever-growing population. Between 1950 and 1990, the country’s Maoist era, the population, roughly doubled to 1.2 billion, according to U.N. figures. Deng Xiaoping’s move to limit population growth turned out to be a wise policy, at least initially, allowing China to focus more on industrialization and less on feeding an ever-growing number of mouths.  read more »

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China Catches Cold: What That Means For The Rest Of Us

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For the last century, one enduring cliché has been that when America sneezes, the world catches a cold. But now the big power with the sniffles is China.

China’s rise has been the most profound development of the past half century, turning a moribund, rural country into a highly urbanized economic superpower. Hundreds of millions have been lifted out of poverty, and markets around the world reshaped. China alone accounted for a whopping 24.1% of global economic growth from 2003 to 2013. according to the IMF.  read more »

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500 Years of GDP: A Tale of Two Countries

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Last year (2014), China overtook the United States in gross domestic product adjusted for purchasing power (GDP-PPP, see point 4 for explanation), according to both the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (Note 1).  read more »