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Shanghai Maglev Train

No Alternative To Austerity? Ask The Chinese

by | Monday, 14th May 2012
The effects of the collapse in the real economy globally are being felt in China. Nevertheless they continue to invest in science and infrastructure, the two key requirements for future growth.

There is no doubt that China is suffering as a result of the global economic downturn. Electricity generation levels collapsed in April; up only 0.7% in the last 12 months. China's shipyards have received almost no orders this year. Housing sales are collapsing. Manufacturing outputs are falling.

These are all indicators that the Chinese economy is faltering, and, of course, the inevitable rhetoric from the world's financiers to the Chinese government is "we must have easing!"

China's reaction, on the other hand, is to invest in high tech, science driven, infrastructure.

For example, despite the fall in demand for electricity, China will add a further 10.7 Gigawatts of nuclear power capacity in 2012.

They have begun building two of the largest capacity electricity cables on the planet. Being built by the State Grid Corporation of China, the 800 kv line will stretch nearly 1400 miles between Xinjiang and Henan, and will transmit a mind boggling 37 billion kilowatt hours per year, on average. The second line is a slightly smaller capacity but equally long 750 kv line linking Xinjiang and the Northwest China Grid Co. Ltd.

The National Development and Reform Commission is investing hugely in large scale water projects similar in scope to NAWAPA or PLHINO, improving irrigation in the agricultural sector and providing more efficient supplies for industry.

Then there's the newly announced £10 billion "High Tech Innovation Park" in southern China's Sichuan province, which will focus on things such as information technology, biomedicine and precision machine tools. The park is expected to employ up to 150,000 people.

And what about investment in maglev technology? China already has the world's only operating maglev line, in Shanghai; it holds the world speed record for an operational train at 313mph. They plan to build a 600mph evacuated tube version.

They are investing in their space programme: space stations (they launched a prototype module last September), missions to the moon and Mars. Anyone arguing this is a waste of money ignores the fact the the US effort to put a man on the moon returned eleven dollars back into the real economy for every dollar spent, as the technologies developed in the effort filtered down through the system.

Compare and contrast China's approach with that if today's backrupt Britain, Europe and the United States.

Our power generating capacity is collapsing as power stations reach end of life. We will have to shut down our still viable coal and oil fired power stations by 2015 if we cannot implement the rather insane policy of carbon capture and storage. We have a policy of demonising nuclear power. We sell off every national asset we can to companies that over charge for the service they provide, while they invest the minimum of their profits that they can get away with. Result, leaky water pipes for example. Our education standards fall to new lows, barely able to produce young people who can read and count, never mind who might wish to be the next generation of innovative scientists and engineers.

While China builds its nation, we permit our leaders to systematically dismantle ours.

Our political leaders constantly rattle out the mantra "there is no alternative to austerity". Liars all, because China proves there is an alternative - a publicly funded high-tech, science driven national infrastructure programme used as a driver for the rest of the economy.

People fear that China will one day become a new superpower with the will to overrun this planet. The way we are going, this is the least of our worries: austerity will kill us before they get the chance.

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