November 23, 2010

Big Infrastructure Projects Are Nothing New in China

I'll have a few posts on China over the coming week since I spent a few days in Beijing last week. I had a free afternoon on this trip, so I got the chance to visit the Great Wall.

It's hard to convey what it's like to see this amazing feat of engineering...and folly. When has a big wall ever worked? Maginot Line anyone? Here's me on the Wall -- the haze is pollution of course. (Thanks to colleague Dr. Rhoda Davidson from e3 Associates for taking this!).

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I had some fun imagining that first meeting with an emperor in 220 BC when he said, "Hey I have this idea..." But what really struck me was that China seems to love big projects.

We can marvel at the speed of China's growth, especially in the green sphere where the country is building 16,000 miles of high-speed rail and became the largest solar panel maker in the world in just a few years.

But what I learned standing on the Great Wall is that China has done it all before.

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