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China: A New Story Of Balance..The Bar Rouge View !

Isn't The View Spectacular ? (Travel Site Photo !)

Green & Clean Neighbourhood, Our Apartment Complex In Downtown Shanghai

From the open deck of the top floor Bar Rouge in downtown Shanghai facing the busy Huangpu River and the glittering Pudong skyline across, you realise, once again, the relentless pace with which China is growing. This breathtaking image combines everything, China's strategy, the vision and the hard work that will take it there. Except that there seems to be a greater than ever effort to balance growth and the environment.

Driving out of Pudong International Airport three days ago, I saw the new airport terminal coming up. As structures go, its futuristic, as scale, gigantic. And seems to stretch for ever. What you can see now only is the superstructure, which will be ready by 2010. By then, Pudong, along with this terminal, will have five runways and should handle 80 million passengers.

The older Hongquiao airport, which is closer to the center of Shanghai, itself will have two runways and will be able to handle 30 million passengers - just in case you wanted to compare Bombay's struggling old airport with one runway and the proposed new airport (for the last two decades ?)

Metro As Well

And yes, for the metro and train lovers, a new 13-line rail network with 512 km of lines is coming up. Yes, there is a larger objective, the 2010 World Expo. And there is another larger target, making Shanghai a global hub for business, trade and commerce. Looking out on to the ships and boats sailing purposefully past on the river, it looks like all this will happen.

Right where we are standing, braving chilly winds, a 2,000 yard stretch of the waterfront is being redeveloped. Also coming up somewhere here is a modern passenger ship terminal (so its not only about airports and fast trains) and of course the world's fastest commercial train service.

The high speed magnetic levitation line from Shanghai's Pudong airport will be extended to Hangzhou, 100 miles south. The mag lev runs only 30 km or so now and serves as an exhibit of sorts. Even so, its not often that you can travel at 430 kmph, stay on the ground and survive to tell the tale. Its a dizzying run to say the least.

Maintaining Balance ?

And for all the scorching construction and development, the city of Shanghai and its neighbourhood seems to trying to maintain a balance with the environment. Shanghai already has 4,000 skyscrapers, 2,000 more than New York. Another 1,000 are coming up. And yet, the apartment complexes, including the one we are staying are well laid out with greenery. And the air never seems polluted.

Even the Shanghai-Hangzhou expressway is lined with beautifully landscaped trees. In other industrial zones like Huzou, armies of workers are putting up thousands of transplanted trees along the main thoroughfares. Having noticed the same raw infrastructure to polish transition in cities like Shenzhen today, one thing is clear. Some lessons have been learnt somewhere. Almost quickly as the mistakes began piling up. The story of China is as much today of balance with the environment as it was of reckless growth.

As the music throbs inside the cozier confines of Bar Rouge (with a cover charge so ridiculous it can't be printed here) the brilliant lights illuminating the buildings around us begin to power down. Including at the space needle like TV tower across. Lights are out at 10.30 pm. But life on the 8th floor of Bund 18 is just begun stirring. Not a table can be had and the DJ seems to have just begun. Like the rest of the People's Republic of China, he's just warming up.


Rashmi Bansal said…
But bet the DJ does not play Himesh :)
Dewaker Basnet said…
amazed to watch shanghai's progress..
rashmi's comment was funny:)
Ankur said…
Govindraj, good to see that China is showing an immaculate balance between progress and ecology consciousness, but is it also showing an equally balanced approach towards demographic and geographic distribution of growth and development..?
Whenever the progress of China is being talked about, its mainly focussed at a few cities like Shanghai,Guangzhou etc most of which are coastal cities where there's been plenty of Foreign investment. Why does no one ever talk about the vast mainland China which still lags behind...?? Hasn't the development in China been lopsided...?? Arent cities like Shanghai hogging the limelight against a large portion of inland China which is still impoverished....??

I think China's story is much the same like India, only except for the fact that we only get to see the brighter side of the picture in China's case unlike India, where a powerful and independent media leaves no stone unturned to expose the truth to its own people as well as to the whole world....!!
Bombay Addict said…
Anon - "a powerful and independent media leaves no stone unturned to expose the truth to its own people as well as to the whole world." vot was that ?? surely you were sarcastic

Govind - all i can say is :( I seriously doubt we will ever get there. At least not on the same scale as China. Much as I want to be optimistic, I don't see it happening soon. Envy your trip tho. And are you serious about the 430kmph mag lev?

Rashmi - Can we export Himeshbhai to China ?
Anonymous said…
Nice blog...but have a doubt, though...!!
Is one city representative of a country's growth as a whole...?
Anonymous said…
Interesting point..However, I am not sure whether Shanghai alone can contribute to a GDP figure of $2 trillion (2004) and a national average growth number of 9 per cent for several years !!

Of course there are figures and figures and some of them will be disputed. But that's not the point here.

On the other point about China rural, urban, rich, poor, coastal vs hinterland..I endeavoured to address these issues during my last visit !

Anonymous said…
And Bombay Addict, yes, I was on it, albeit six months ago..the Mag Lev cars have digital read-outs displaying the speed on either ends of each compartment.

And you can see and feel the acceleration. Like an F1 car maybe, of course, much faster ! The experience is MIND-BLOWING and pretty scary as well..

Unknown Indian said…
But think of what Shanghai has lost. All the old mills that existed in the 1920s! And the fields where Pudong now stands! And all the heritage structures! And chawls (or the Chinese equivalent) that existed in the 1850s. Thank God for the BEAG and our heritage activists - Bombay can continue to stay in its pristine state with ancient mills and beautiful heritage chawls (even if a few of them fall every monsoon)

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