Opinion

George Chen

A turning point for China?

George Chen
Jul 28, 2011 02:48 UTC

By George Chen
The opinions expressed are the author’s own.

Is the train crash tragedy becoming a turning point for China’s political and economic development?

Frustrations among the Chinese public have been growing rapidly — at least on the internet if not yet in the streets. People are particularly unhappy with the way the Ministry of Railways has dealt with the train accident, which so far has cost 39 lives.

It has now turned into a full-blown crisis. Shen Minggao, chief Greater China economist for Citigroup, said in his latest research note to clients that the train tragedy could become “a turning point in the China growth model.”

“Authorities may choose intentionally to slow GDP growth gradually but firmly to 7-8 percent in following years and spend more time to fix the problems created by artificial fast growth,” said Shen in the note.

Shen’s comments have sparked a big debate online. Some young Chinese have said they are utterly disappointed at the way the government has handled the post-accident situation and don’t believe fundamental problems in China like corruption and bribery can be fixed or changed quickly.

Not just an accident

George Chen
Jul 25, 2011 04:11 UTC

By George Chen
The opinions expressed are the author’s own.

We’ve talked about whether China’s economy will have a soft or hard landing. In fact, what China needs is a pause. Lots of things in China may be moving way too fast. Including our trains.

On Saturday, at least 35 people died when a high-speed train smashed into a stalled train in eastern Zhejiang province, raising new questions about the safety of the fast-growing rail network. For a Reuters story, click here.

In my view, the train crash does not only raise doubts about China’s big ambitions and effort to build its high-speed train network. It also adds to people’s frustrations over the way the country is administered. Some political commentators have said the “accident” was not really an accident but an incident, which in the end may have corruption, irresponsibility and bureaucracy to blame for.

  •