Why doesn't the USA look like the largest economy in the world when I travel there? China's top cities look even more advanced than American.
Flora Ding, lives in China
This is a common question asked by Chinese actually. Many Chinese go to America or Australia and find the cities look less fancy than the mega cities in China. Many Chinese even call Australia “coarse” and call America a “village”. For some people, tall buildings, bridges, and roads are the symbols of development. Turn on any Chinese TV channel, when they talk about economy or development, they present footages of modern buildings, roads, construction… time after time, many have been misled and forgot the true meaning of development.
Development is not about “looking” good. There are many tall buildings in Shanghai, less tall buildings in Sydney and Washington. But where do people live in Shanghai? Small apartments floating in the air with high prices, like 12,000 US dollars per square meter? which most middle-class people find difficult to afford, so parents have to give away all their savings to buy a small flat for their kids?? Yes, I’ve seen so many tall buildings in Shanghai, so what? well, in Sydney, many people actually live in houses, not flats, houses may not look that fancy as high apartments, but people do have more space living in houses and feel more comfortable..so who cares about “looking” ？
Also I don’t just see tall buildings in Chinese mega cities, also in small cities with population having very low income… High-rises and “modern” looking have nothing to do with development, it has become some image projects and been used to generate profit for some people. Not only Shanghai, many small Chinese cities can look more “modern” than downtown Sydney.
(a “modern” looking ghost town, picture from Baidu)
So let’s not forget the real meaning of “development”. It’s not about power, nor about look. It’s about making a better life for people. If Shanghai were really more advanced than Sydney or New york, then why do many people want to immigrate to the west? According to Huffpost, “Hurun Report surveyed 304 Chinese individuals with a net worth between US$1.5 million (C$1.9 million) and US$30 million (C$38 million).
Slightly less than half of the respondents said they are either considering emigrating from China or planning to do so. That's actually a lower percentage than in previous surveys, when some 60 per cent of Chinese millionaires indicated they want to leave China.
This year's results are "the lowest on record, but still not low," Hurun Report chairman and chief researcher Rupert Hoogewerf said in a statement.”
So if you really want to compare, focus on education, GNP, medical care and other things related to people’s lives. Not tall buildings, fancy lights and other image projects. You know, a book can’t be judged by its cover, neither can a city.
Because there’s no percentage in it.
Looking advanced, in modern times, is usually defined by mega-projects, like skyscrapers, high speed trains, and fancy looking airports.
Americans just don’t like paying for those.
Here’s the thing, skyscrapers are a perfect example. In most situations, skyscrapers just aren’t economically warranted. The payback you get on the (fairly massive) investment is generally smaller than you could get by investing in something else. Unless you have a real reason to want huge amounts of floor space in a very expensive real estate environment (which happens, but is not especially common), it makes a lot more sense to build closer to the ground. Many companies in the US build campuses a little ways away from dense city centers, rather than skyscrapers downtown. They do that because American companies tend to be relentlessly pragmatic, and the dollars flow to whatever’s most profitable.
So, why do other countries build that vast infrastructure? There are a number of reasons. Different rules and cheaper labor may make those kinds of buildings more justified elsewhere. In many cases, at least some of the money is provided or incentivized by go nments, who are less concerned with economic justification. But the biggest reason, to my perception, is that the big buildings aren’t about what makes financial sense, it’s about image. A huge, distinct building is a symbol of a company’s power, and an advertisement to the whole world.
America’s kind of gotten away from that. There was a time when we did the same thing. A lot of Manhattan’s skyline was built in an earlier era in which companies competed to have taller buildings than their competitors. It was about pride and image more than about money. But we’ve more or less gotten over that.
American culture tends to value practicality and at least the appearance of humility. Here’s an example: this is the richest man on the planet:
Looks pretty normal, right? you could pass this guy walking down the street and never guess that his wealth easily outstrips the GDP of Luxembourg. For that matter, so does Warren Buffet. This is where he lives:
World’s third richest man, and he lives in a house that any comfortable middle-class American might live in.
Mark Zuckerberg isn’t quite as rich as Warren Buffett, but he’s worth $50 billion, and this is where he lives:
For comparison, Indian Steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal is worth $13 billion, and this is his house:
Now, I don’t want to give the impression that wealthy Americans don’t actually spend money on expensive things (sometimes very expensive things), nor do I mean to suggest that conspicuous consumption doesn’t exist in the US. But it doesn’t have the kind of social cachet that it does in other countries. If an American flaunts his wealth and builds monuments to his own ego, it’s broadly seen less as a power move than a disgusting attempt by a clueless guy to feel good about himself. We tend to laud and respect wealthy people who are publicly seen to be living simply.
This is Shanghai in China. This is the number 1 city in China, minus Hong Kong, with an Economic output per year of $471 billion dollars This is a very beautiful city with more than 126 skyscrapers, and tipping the scale to over 24 million inhabitants. It is home to multiple large national banks, and to hundreds of businesses such as SAIC motors, PanAn. Shanghai is also one of the fastest growing cities in the world, with a nominal GDP growth of 6.9% as compared to 2016. Millions of people head to Shanghai for work and for tourism, with a massive 2,446sq miles of space to visit. Shanghai is a massive city and looks very much developed. With tons of high rise buildings and having dozens of high profile businesses and banks setting up shop in Shanghai, it’s no wonder why this is one of the fastest growing cities in the world. Now onto an American place.
This *city* even though it is not an official city, has a GDP of over $500 billion dollars a year GDP 2017, is home to just around 3 million people and is considered the tip of the spear for human innovation. This little area is around 20 square miles in total and is the location of choice for many high profile businesses such as Apple, Google, Facebook, Wells Fargo, Visa, Chevron, AMD, HP, and Tesla just to name a few. Any guesses on where this place is? Well this little place is known as Silicon Valley, which is the majority of the San Francisco Bay Area. This might beg questions such as,
Why aren’t there high rise buildings?
Why do so few people live here?
How can a place with 12% of the population and less than 1% the area of Shanghai produce nearly $30 billion dollars worth of economic output more?
Well, looks can be very very deceiving. The notion that a place must have high rise buildings or a large population in order to be considered “developed” is a false idea and where this idea is struck down very quickly when you compare two of the greatest places on earth. You must look at the inner workings of each city, and just because you can put on a good show, doesn’t necessarily translate over into a large GDP or economic output.
We associate “developed” with things that look straight out of a sci-fi movie. With tall buildings, lights, and vastness. These are the traits humans look for, for advanced places or places that are developed. In order to tell how developed places are, we must look to the HDI scale or Human Development Index. Currently, America has an HDI of 0.924 while China has an HDI of 0.758; with 1.0 being fully developed.
Raghunandan R Chinna Chinnaiahgari, Born in India living in the USA since 2016.
I am living in New York right now. Moved into the city less than a month ago. So, take it for what it is worth. Before I moved here New York was my dream city in the USA. I lived in San Antonio and have been to Dallas nad Houston several times.
But as soon as I landed in JFK I lost all my enthusiasm. Roads aren't good and there is trash every where (not on the level of some parts of India but it is extreme to what I have seen in the south). I am from India, I moved for my education into USA two and half years ago. Indian cities are by no means modern. There are newer parts of the cities that look way better than some cities USA but it's limited to certain modern purposefully redeveloped parts. But I didn't like how cities operate in USA. You can't go anywhere without a car. I lived in a small town with less than 20000 people and you need to walk 2 to 3 miles to go get some groceries. Public transportation is worst when compared to other less developed countries. Intercity public transport is almost invisible outside northeast and few parts. You can't use airplanes everywhere.
But it is how they build their cities, around the car. And they have less people to build the cities for. Except for northeast, rest of the country is very sparsely populated. So, you don't find the dense infrastructure like in India or China. So, it is very easy to conclude newly built Chinese cities are more modern, but I don't think people want to live in this city long term. I don't want to be in NYC for more than a year. If I get a chance I want to move into a less chaotic place.
In a single sentence, Chinese cities are more dense and newer than American or European counterparts.
And Chinese central govt spends as much money as they wish on cities American cities mostly depend on the funds secured by the city itself to build the city's infrastructure. That is if a city is losing money it's very unlikely a federal go nment will pump more money to maintain their infrastructure. They do but not a scale as in China.
I'm not saying India is comparable to China, so Chinese keyboard warriors please don't shit on me in the replies. I get hatred that is almost uncalled for from the Chinese netizens when ever I give my opinion. God knows why.
译文来源：三泰虎 http://www.santaihu.com/49758.html 译者：Joyceliu
Chris Grayson, I once majored in Architecture.
The United States sold China their skylines, they buy their beautiful skyscrapers from us. The three tallest skyscrapers in Shanghai are Jin Mao, World Financial Center, and Shanghai Tower.