Is China ahead of the US and other developing countries in infrastructure?
Joel Phelan, Former USMC NCO and Veteran, Programmer, Wiggin Libertarian
It’s because they started building their infrastructure about 80–100 years AFTER the USA did. Thus, the engineering was standardized (mostly by the USA) , material costs were down, and technology existed that they could reasonably implement that the USA cannot without having to tear out the OLD infrastructure (and as another person answered, much of the US’ spending is in maintaining the existing infrastructure, roads, bridges, and train tracks, where as China, because they (comparatively) have nothing, and had almost literally nothing in the way of modern infrastructure 30 years ago, did not have these maintenance costs. It’s a problem they will run into going forward.
It also depends on what you mean by “ahead”. You can speak of their better maintained highway system, yes. But you cannot do so honestly without admitting that part of the reason it’s better maintained than the US system is (aside from only having been in existence for less than 30 years) that it is less than 10th the size of the US highway system and exists in about a third of the land area as the US system. China also has a smaller railway system, much of which didn’t exist before 1990. China could afford to deploy high speed rail, for example, because it HAD to lay the tracks for something anyway. nothing existed in that route before. The US railways network is over 100 years old (and over 150 years old in some places). That’s rail to maintain and replace. Switching equipment. Safety equipment. And so on. China has a few nice modern airports in large cities. That’s because, again, they had NOTHING before. They can afford to do a re-build and upgrade project on the main airport in Beijing because they don’t have five thousand airports to maintain (fifteen thousand if you count all airfields), as the US does. China has 188 airports and less than 600 airfields total. The USA has 5,194 airports and 15,095 airfields total. How, exactly, is China ahead in air traffic infrastructure again?
译文来源：三泰虎 http://www.santaihu.com/46815.html 译者：Joyceliu
Brandon Hawthorne, former Graphic Artist, Illustrator, Comercia Photog,. at Creative Advertising (1963-2010)
China's government and the people in it are much more involved in what's best for China and not just what's going to benefit themselves. Unlike the United States where the people running the country seem to have little interest beyond what's best for themselves and their constituents.
While they are technically a socialist country they encourage entrepreneurship and innovation.
They also tend to ignore copyrights and international patent laws taking advantage of the Innovation done by other countries without acknowledging the contribution or paying for it.
But I think mostly it is just the fact that the people running China really are interest in making China more successful.
Here politicians will fight anything that might benefit the country if they don't think it's going to be a benefit themselves and their constituents directly.
Healthcare is a perfect example if they would just sit down together and work out all the details they could come up with a healthcare plan that would benefit everybody, except maybe the people in the healthcare industry who are ripping off the population with excessive healthcare charges.
But each group is afraid that somebody is going to benefit more than they are therefore they'd rather see nothing done at all so that's what happens nothing.
Most developed countries have modern high-speed railways but not the United States.
No we're trying to go back to using coal while the Chinese are trying very hard to get away from using coal and develop clean energy to fight there terrible pollution problems.
We are ignoring the problems and hoping that they will just go away, like climate change for instance.
I think that the United States is on a down slope that we may not see the end of for a long time. We lack the one thing that's most important we lack cooperation.
Edward Bauman, pragmatist
The issue of infrastructure is really one of national priorities, and in this regard the U.S. has become a slacker nation in which citizens complain about insufficient infrastructure investment but don’t want to pay for it. At the same time, foolish conservatives mistakenly focus on reducing government size and spending while cutting taxes in the ideological belief that this is as how to increase economic growth. In reality, infrastructure is the investment that drives such growth. It determines the cost of doing business.
China understands that investment and debt are the costs for long-term economic growth and greater shared prosperity. On a proportional basis, they are far more aggressive in this regard relative to the U.S. Because Americans think they and their country are exceptional, they are unaware of how unexceptional they and their country actually are in fundamental ways. The U.S. needs to spend three to four trillion dollars simply to bring current infrastructure up to modern standards.
That won’t happen by cutting taxes for the wealthy while cutting the budgets for everything else that government does for citizens. In some ways the country is in a state of decline because it doesn’t generate sufficient tax revenues for the size of its gross domestic product. The current president is simply clueless about any of this.
Martin Dièdre, Journalist-photographer. Nature, art and history enthusiast
You have to understand China is not a typical developing country. This term is a bit antiquated, in that it was more appropriate during the 80–90’s to describe the emerging countries that were not fully developed, not part of USSR and not Third World Countries.
China is what we call a newly indusrialized country. Its economy is still not completely dominated by services and trade, because the industry is very strong and predominant. Among the features we can find: export-driven and fast-growing economy, developing urban centers, large corporates, strong political leadership and high human development index.
Paul Bilinas, B.Ec. (Adv.) Economics, University of Adelaide (2016)
That seems like a loaded question, and I’m not sure if you’re entirely correct. But, I’ll take it for granted that China is “so ahead in infrastructure”.
The reason is probably that the USA built most of its infrastructure a long time ago. Once it’s there, there is little incentive to upgrade it. Why spend billions when you can make do with what you’ve got? Also, once the capital stock of a country reaches equilibrium, a large fraction of savings (pretty much all of it) is used up in maintaining existing capital.
Rewind to 1990 and China had very little infrastructure. As its economy has boomed, it has accumulated capital very rapidly. Now it is at a point where there is too much capital. The government has used investment to employ some of the country’s excess capacity and support an ultimately u-wth. The problem is that the capital will not be able to be maintained. It would require an astronomical savings rate. China wants to transition to a consumption driven economy, but how can it do this while simultaneously maintaining a high savings rate to support a huge capital stock?
Kalynn Hines, lived in The United States of America
Because the U.S. and China spend money on different things. Much of the U.S. federal spending goes to our military, foreign affairs and NATO. Our spending also focuses on programs like social security, housing and healthcare. A new infrastructure plan is expected in the near future. So to sum things up, each country spends their money on high priorities. Infrascture I would assume is a high priority for China and hasn't really been for the U.S.
Terry Newman, Ten years living and doing business in China.
Because US politicians, in order to get votes and corporate support, have eroded the tax base to the point that basic infrastructure (and also other basic services like education and health) can no longer be effectively funded. Adding to their woes is the fact that Washington has been paralysed for 12 of the last 16 years due to the failure of either party to control simultaneously the Presidency and the legislature.
Lisa Beardmore, lived in China
I would question the validity of that statement. I currently live ( and have for the past 2 years) in Shanghai, China. While there certainly are some parts of the infrastructure that are very developed like the highways, subway and high speed trains, basic things like the city sewer and drainage system are severely lacking.
Have you ever BEEN to China? I have lived there for over 15 years. I was happy when I could go a week without the power going out. They do have newer highways than the US, but that is because they didn't have any not too long ago. Also, they are toll roads, so many people avoid taking them to save money. China builds things very quickly. But they also have a tendency to fall apart just as quickly.
The basic premise of the question is incorrect. China has deficient infrastructure in much of its territory, whereas the US has solid & pervasive infrastructure throughout its territory. It is in China’s major cities that Chinese infrastructure surpasses some levels of US infrastructure development & that is entirely due to being newly installed in places that were previously bereft of modern infrastructure. US infrastructure is now old but it blankets the nation.
Gary Sands, Lived in Shanghai 2006-2012, lives in Vietnam, written several articles on China
Not sure what you mean by “greatest” - I would rather have the Swiss build my infrastructure if I was looking for high-quality.
Haiyan Chen, Native Chinese have the most real experience of China
Because the United States spends too much money on military and war.
The United States maintains the world's largest daily military expenditure, which excludes war spending.
If, assuming that the US military spends at least $2 trillion in the war in Iraq on American infrastructure, well, I don't think China can catch up with the United states.
The United States is a powerful nation, the only superpower in the world. But I hope they can spend more time and money on improving the United States, not the war.
Damon Craig, Expletive deleted
What can the US learn from China's infrastructure projects?
Yeah we can.
Top down management.
Only ask youself, “Why are the politicos where they are today?” Where did these guy running the show come from? (Same goes for corporate executives.) Is it because they are insightful folks, or because their gift of hob-nobbing is the creme de creme.
Hob-nobbing. We have leadership good at hob-nobbing. Welcome to the world of politics. Good body language. Good gift of gab. Dumber than a turd sandwich at everything else. Hello Hilary. Hello Trump.
Nothing. US has gone through what China has achieved in infrastructure in FDR’s time. The reason that US government cannot afford to renew their infrastructure is that the labor cost much more than in FDR’s time. Another reason is that the US government nowadays is not as mighty as the FDR administration which carried out the New Deal after the Great Depression.
Igor Markov, Lived on the East Coast, on the West Coast and in the Midwest
The most valuable lesson is that planning too far ahead and too strategically can lead to spectacular miscalculations and waste of resources because unused infrastructure can decay. This can be illustrated by China's newly built cities that currently remain empty. A key failure of planning is neglecting the need for organic growth and the need to provide cash flow (China's high-speed rail illustrates how this should work). US infrastructure planners typically understand these concepts very well - they would rather err on the conservative side (miss profits) than over-invest. The main risk here is in policies or fiscal climate that artificially bias the decision process toward increased risk. But this has already played out in the 2008 crisis, so isn't a new lesson.