Global Studies’s Updates
China: Building the Dream
economist.com | Original Article | by James Miles
SOME HISTORIANS BELIEVE that Marco Polo never went to China. But even if the 13th-century Venetian merchant did not lay eyes on the coastal city of Hangzhou himself, he certainly reflected the awe it inspired in other foreign traders when he described it as “beyond dispute the finest and the noblest in the world”. And, “incredible as it may seem”, he wrote, Hangzhou (which he called Kinsay) was but one of more than 1,200 “great and wealthy cities” in southern China. “Everything appertaining to this city is on so vast a scale…that it is not easy even to put it in writing.”
In Marco Polo’s day it was the ornate palaces, paved roads and meticulously planned layouts of Chinese cities that impressed visitors; in today’s megacities it is some of the world’s tallest skyscrapers and largest shopping malls, interlinked by the world’s longest bullet-train network. And if all goes according to the Communist Party’s plan, the coming two decades will evoke a few more gasps. Read more...