China’s “Ghost” Cities

doublewood’s perspective on the Ghost Cities segment that 60 Minutes did last month:

It’s a good script, and a production that can win prizes in Hollywood, but not for journalism I hope. In trying to drive home an all-too-simplistic and preordained editorial position, CBS took tidbits of images and cut and paste them with English-speaking talking heads to weave a fantastic story. There is a lack of basic understanding of Chinese phenomena and no depth of analyses.

The images of these “ghost cities” are familiar to us who’ve lived in China for years. I have to agree with Stephen Roach of Yale (and formerly the head of Morgan Stanley Asia) in the article that these ghost cities will soon become “thriving metropolitan areas.” Why? We’ve seen them happen time and time and time again since the early 1990s!

I will not belabor myself to point out and explain the misconceptions and innuendos because they are too numerous. And unless one has a solid background in understanding the intricacies and detailed mechanics of “socialist market economy with Chinese characteristics” (the formal term for China’s system), one cannot comprehend the implicit reality with one’s tinted lenses. Bear in mind I am not defending the Chinese. They have big problems as one would expect in any huge country, but certainly not in the ways as portrayed in 60 Minutes.

There is, however, a more relevant video clip in the link (unrelated to the 60 Minutes tabloid piece) of an interview of Jim Rogers who has traveled the world and now lives in Singapore. This is someone who has made real money time and time again. It is when people like him hold different opinions than people like Stephen Roach or George Soros that is worth listening to. Otherwise, as Jim Rogers once said:  don’t believe the press, they will surely misguide you.

– doublewood



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