Falling Chinese Infrastructure

Yao Ming and earthquake survivor and hero Lin Hao, 9

Hugh Hewitt’s criticism of this comment by Sen. Obama is on the mark:

Everybody’s watching what’s going on in Beijing right now with the Olympics. Think about the amount of money that China has spent on infrastructure. Their ports, their train systems, their airports are vastly the superior to us now, which means if you are a corporation deciding where to do business you’re starting to think, “Beijing looks like a pretty good option.”

Merely to elaborate Br. Hugh’s thorough argument: (1) A thoughtful China hand tells me that while the PRC is celebrated for producing more engineers than the U.S. to keep pace with coastal China’s frenetic growth, on average they’re not as well-trained as ours. (2) Obama’s comment displays insensitivity to the suffering that persists in Sichuan Province, where 70,000 died in May, many of them crushed under school buildings to which “vastly…superior” doesn’t remotely apply. Writes Professor Zhi Wenjun:

The great disaster of the Wenchuan earthquake has evoked serious thinking by many people, especially on the quality of public construction, such as the phenomenon that many schools collapsed in the earthquake with serious casualties inflicted….In addition to the fact that the earthquake intensity went far beyond the state seismic fortification requirements in these regions, apparently the collapsed school buildings represented jerry-built construction projects.

The earthquake exposed extensive, fatal problems that exist in architectural design and construction in China.

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