This article here, Urban Platforms in a Policy Pressure Cooker, is just one example of Caixin Online’s excellent reporting on China’s political and economic landscape. The high-quality English is also extraordinary, as most Chinese media almost never nail the news voice that, for better or for worse, dominates the international media’s idea of what is credible and what is not. The article describes a set of “don’t” handed down by the central authorities that are constricting efforts by local government platforms to secure funding for infrastructure projects.
The typical centrally-planned list of negatives does more to open up gray area than anything else, and that is a hallmark of life in China. Every dictate from on high is like the club coming down on a gopher’s head.
A related article in Caijing Online, Official Newspaper Blames Local Govts for Overcapacity Which Threats Chinese Economy, talks about the naughty local governments and their tendency to build vanity projects in order to impress the upper crust in the Party and justify more billions. It’s clear that the corruption campaign – recently extended to five years – and the regulations are part of an overall center vs. periphery struggle that is as old as China itself.
Chinese emperors are notoriously paranoid. Some of the country’s greatest heroes are generals who were a bit too successful and ended up facing the imperial headsman. Today is no different, because China is still in many ways a feudal state (this has become my phrase of the day btw), run by a classic blood and money oligarchic network that must destroy itself to save the nation. The family ties detailed by Bloomberg and the NYTimes are replicated all the way down to the street I live on, where last week’s brawl involved two rival gangs with family-run shops competing on one strip.
Maosanity was all about eradicating this feudal hierarchy. In fact, all communists bathe in a bubbling hatred for aristocratic privilege. There is little difference between China now and China then (pre-Liberation). Only the gadgets have changed. Most societies around the world operate the same – even the USA, with its American Dream of a land populated by free princes, has succumbed to standard social operating procedure a long time ago. Wealth at the top, struggle everywhere else.
If history teaches us anything, it is that meaning lies in the struggle. That’s why hope is so important, because only through enduring hope of an ultimate victory can anyone continue doing the meaningful things in life. Writing about local governments in China using platforms to raise up infrastructure projects that may bring the whole nation’s economy crashing down is undeniably tangible …
… even as the world spins its way through the void, struggling to maintain the wobble while the sun’s countdown to supernova ticks away.
Demise is guaranteed, but that’s about it.