After having the opportunity to visit a rural farming community in China it made me realize many things about China’s impressive growth. It is not an efficient growth, but an inefficient one. We see skyscrapers and massive Olympic structures being constructed every month but this is only a small part of China. Outside the two great cities of Beijing and Shanghai some small communities with de-collectivized farms hardly have any paved roads, and some have none at all. While we see this huge growth in China now, I do not believe that this growth is sustainable. My main reasons are as follows:
1. No infrastructure between inner and coastal China exists. During my visit to a small village the people said the one paved road was a gift from the government last year. It cost 2.2 million RMB or the equivalent of almost $300,000 USD. This was also one of the first villages in the area to receive a paved road. The scary thing about this fact is that the village is only about 1.5 hours outside the Beijing city limits. They had been transporting the food produced on their land via small carts to the closest village 5 miles away. From there they could transport their food on paved roads to the city. For the first time small communities are getting roads that will finally bring buses to and from the big cities.
2. Beijing’s growth has been very rapid and resulted in many people losing their homes. 60 million people have been pushed off their land because of the growing city. While this number seems bad, it is even worse than some may imagine. China’s version of social security for rural residences is based on a system of land holding. Families are given plots of land that they can farm on. This land is considered enough to support themselves, but when this land is repossessed, they are given no other form of support other than a small sum of money, that does not compensate for the true value of the land.
3. De-collectivization has worked well over the past few decades, but this system is not efficient or effective for China’s growing population and booming economy. These small farms cannot feed 1.3 billion people. While food can be imported, that comes at a price that is much higher than farming within the country where food can be produced and sold at artificially low prices.
While China continues to grow, I think that the huge amount of growth we have been seeing cannot be sustained at the same pace as in the past. There are many obstacles that China must overcome in order to continue to grow, which I will be covering later.