Always useful, and often picking up on trends little noticed elsewhere, The Economist, best magazine on the planet, is at its typical best describing China’s massive infrastructure boom.
China’s infrastructure splurge
Rushing on by road, rail and air
Feb 14th 2008 | BEIJING | From The Economist print edition
China’s race to build roads, railways and airports speeds ahead. Democracy, says an official, would sacrifice efficiency
“IT’S like approaching the Forbidden City, it’s absolutely incredible.” The adjective is one that Mouzhan Majidi, chief executive of Foster + Partners, liberally attaches to Beijing’s new airport terminal, designed by his British firm. The world’s largest, designed in the gently sinuous form of a Chinese dragon, it was planned and built in four years by an army of 50,000 workers. “The columns on the outside are red and you see them marching for miles and miles,” says Mr Majidi.
A little hyperbole is understandable. The terminal is 3km (1.8 miles) long. The floor space is 17% bigger than all the terminals at London’s Heathrow combined (including about-to-open Terminal Five). Chinese officials like the Forbidden City analogy. Just as the towering vermilion walls and golden roofs of the imperial palace inspire visitors with awe, China wants its golden-roofed terminal to impress those arriving for the Olympic games in August. Part of a $3.8 billion expansion, which included the opening of a third runway in October, it is due to open on February 29th, weeks ahead of schedule.
The numbers are mind-bending. Beijing’s airport is now the ninth busiest in the world. The longest sea-crossing bridge: 36km (22+ miles), six-lanes, between Shanghai and Ningbo (anyone else never hear before of Ningbo, much less that it’s important enough to build the longest bridge in the world to get there?).