Tuesday, September 09, 2014

The Great Malls of China

I'd recently written about China's urbanization plans to control separatists in Xinjiang. While cities in this region may serve a counter-insurgency purpose, it is also China's plans for the rest of the country for economic goals (increasing consumer demand to reach Western levels to support economic growth) as well (so the title is good for this post, too). But is urbanization a trojan horse for problems the Chinese leaders just don't appreciate because of how they gained power?

Stratfor writes about China's urbanization plans:

China's urban population may grow by as many as 230 million people in the next 15 years. But most growth will take place not in metropolises like Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing but in the myriad small- and medium-sized satellite cities around them. And as residents flock to these cities, China's working-age population will begin to decline, and its elderly population will grow dramatically.

Together, these processes will underpin major changes not only in China's overall economic structure, but also in the financial, fiscal and political relationship between central and local government. The added burdens facing small- and medium-sized cities, especially those located deep inside China that are sequestered from mainstream global trade, will be substantial and perhaps socially and politically destabilizing.

So China's urbanization plans are more than just a counter-insurgency theme.

I wonder if China's Maoist tradition of a peasant-based Communist revolution really appreciates the problem of urban residents for the stability of the state?

Marx viewed urban workers as the natural source of a Communist revolution. He thought Russia wasn't fertile ground for a revolution. Lord knows what he'd have thought of China.

Lenin brought the communist revolution to Russia by making his forces the vanguard of the proletariat that was still too small to erupt in revolution.

Mao bypassed the whole urban-based revolution to go to what China had lots of--peasants from the rural areas.

And now China is urbanizing on purpose? And aging, too, making problems of economic growth more acute?

I know the new and larger cities are supposed to encourage a transition from manufacturing to higher end manufacturing and consumer spending--China's growth can't continue at this rate without such a transition--but doesn't this run the risk of creating the fertile ground for unrest and revolution if growth isn't achieved?