Friday, August 24, 2012

So Much for China's Infrastructure

One of the longest bridges in northern China collapsed on Friday, just nine months after it opened.

NYT has the details:

One of the longest bridges in northern China collapsed on Friday, just nine months after it opened, triggering a storm of criticism from Chinese Internet users and underscoring questions about the quality of construction in China’s rapid expansion of its infrastructure.
A nearly 330-foot-long section of a ramp of the eight-lane Yangmingtan Bridge in the city of Harbin dropped 100 feet to the ground. Four trucks plummeted with it, resulting in three deaths and five injuries.
The 9.6-mile bridge is one of three built over the Songhua River in that area in the past four years,

Note that NYT ties the collapse in with economic growth in China. Growth has nothing to do with it. The private sector doesn't build shoddy products that will result in collapse and losses. China's infrastructure is entirely the result of central planning, and local political cronies are rewarded for completion of projects and little else. Thus, resulting in poor quality product that is constructed quickly and cheaply.

(ht Scoyy Munro)


  1. This is a Keynesian dream come true. Think of all the jobs that will be created to fix the bridge.

  2. I would rather invest in Europe than China right now as the Chinese economy is on as shaky a foundation as this bridge which collapsed.

    Given China's massive reserves, I don't expect a major crash, but the hyper-growth of several decades looks like it is coming to an abrupt end.

    China's economy has massive overcapacity problems because of all the government interventions in the economy. The banking system is probably more shaky than ours was in 2008 with tons of subsidized loans to financially questionable projects and companies because of government dictates. Many believe the economic statistics the government is putting out are all cooked, and, even so, the direction of the data shows a nation in serious economic decline.

    China's biggest export market, Europe, is of course mired in a recession, and China won't be expanding exports to Europe any time soon.

    Then, as the example of this bridge shows, China may have a lot of new infrastructure, but can you really trust it? How many government bureaucrats were bribed to look the other way when corners were cut? And even if all these infrastructure projects were designed and built in a 100% honest fashion, as RW notes, they were all driven by the political concerns of the bureaucratic elite, not market driven calculations of economic need.

    China is not the place to be right now.

  3. Apparently, there are no docs to say who built the bridge. Odd.