In the past, the term “developing country” just seemed to me a p.c. euphemism for “third world.” It indicated in an abstract way that the country’s economy was in flux but inching its way up to whatever.
But being in a developing country is cool, because you literally see everything developing with your own eyes. Before the olympics, construction crews clocked endless hours and the city underwent extreme makeover. Then everyone went home and the magnificent stadiums sit dormant until someone makes a plan for them. Then the world economy crashed and everyone pulled up on their reigns. A bunch of “luxury malls” that went up last year are sadly under-occupied.
The bubble may have burst, but there’s still water in the tub. Beijingers seem to still have faith in their own local economies—helped, I’m sure–by the national government’s commitment to a bazillion dollar stimulus package similar to Obama’s. A bike ride around my neighborhood reveals many projects literally in the works. The little dusty hutong neighborhoods haven’t ceased building, renovating, reinforcing structures, especially in our neck of the woods where the neighborhoods have room to grow. I wonder what these villages will become in 5 more years. New subway lines are slated, ground being cleared, old business fronts refurbished, shop signs becoming more permanent. And the next “lifestyle center” i.e. mall is pressing forward, albeit at a much slower speed then before.
I’m looking on a micro-level of course. Big company friends operate in a state of encroaching crisis. But personal economics work very differently here in China. Individuals are not as invested in the stock market. People do not consume using credit. If you want an expensive car, camera or coat, you pay cash. If you don’t have the cash, you don’t have those things. The people that are sweating it are the poor folks that work in factories making stuff that Westerners realize they don’t need anymore.
This weekend, the convention center held an expo on interior design and decorative finishes. The area was packed with cars.
Building your nest, whether it is an Olympic stadium, a 2 story house, or a place for kids to play in your community seems to be an important part of life and emotional balance. We’re all developing that way.