China: Great progress, but still stones blocking some roads

Posted on June 2, 2012


We have now traveled on Chinese roads for well a week, crossing a small part of this immense country´s south-west. Though our experiences so far are limited, I experiences so far may be summarized as follows:

  • The size of the country – it is simply enormously large and diverse in history, culture, beliefs and traditions

  • It is a country with an equally huge and diverse population

  • The Chinese work hard at whatever they are doing

  • Every arable area seems developed (and this in an organized and systematic manner)

    rice crops in the Chinese countryside

    rice crops in the Chinese countryside

  • It is a highly sophisticated and developed country while still developing – the infrastructure is among the best and most impressive I´ve ever seen, while other roads are still in construction. New airports, high speed railways and highways. Yesterday, we drove 600 km on a new highway opened as recently as in May this year and with gas-stations and rest areas still under construction…

    highways and airports under construction

    highways and airports under construction

  • The Chinese are nationalistic and very satisfied and proud of their economic success and social development over the last 15 years or so

  • There are also in China differences between those that have much and those that have less, but no extreme poverty (no shanty towns so common in the outskirts of many cities in the world) are observed along the roads

    buildings and skycrapers under contruction in the outskirts of Xi'an

    buildings and skyscrapers under construction in the outskirts of Xi’an

  • The Chinese I have talked to seem to appreciate and respect a strong central government. They appear not to question central decisions based on the information made available to them – leaders on all levels are simply supposed to know best

  • The Chinese have a tradition of valuing highly both education and hard work (which of course is a very powerful combination)

  • Maybe most significantly, today´s Chinese want to do things – they have a positive attitude and believe in an even better tomorrow and a strong China. Since they are so many, this belief moves mountains, creates learning, develops high tech hubs, creates employment, stimulates entrepreneurship and leads to continued economic and social development

A potential downside to this very rapid social and economic development for the Chinese remains to be seen. And it will also be interesting to keep these first impressions in mind as we travel north-west in China in direction of the border to Pakistan.

To put the above observations in perspective, we were originally scheduled to travel through South West China via Tibet to Nepal and then to India. However, 3-4 days after starting our tour we were informed by our tour-guide that our permits to drive through Tibet had been redrawn reportedly due to heavy rainfall and stones blocking the roads… China may be big, but it seems some “stones on the road” are hard to remove. Beijing is in command and we, of course, changed our itinerary accordingly. However, not without wondering about what might actually be going on in Tibet.

 (This blog was posted by Kristian once he returned from China. WordPress, along with Twitter and Facebook does not function in the Mainland)


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