HONG KONG DIARY
China: Down the Long and Winding Road to Nowhere…
From Somewhere in Guangdong Province in southern China: Hurtling down the highways and byways past hundreds of shuttered factories emptied of machinery, materials, and workers, there is a thundering resonance of silence. This industrial area was developed solely to satisfy global demand for Chinese exports and now faces (by all accounts) a 30% decrease in activity. Shops, hotels, buses, ferries all have scant traffic, like it is Sunday morning every day at all times of day. Meanwhile, half-completed construction projects sit unattended, their nylon sheeting in tatters and bamboo scaffolding bleaching in the sun like so many carcasses. Even public works have stopped dead, with roads leading nowhere and bridges ending in mid-air, connected to nothing at all.
And so it comes to pass that the global economic downturn settles finally at the point of production. If it is true that the rising tide of globalization lifts all boats, then it also follows that the ebb tide leaves hulls stuck in the muck, stranded, deserted, abandoned.
Global Traveler Advisory: Everywhere I turn are harried fellow travelers bemoaning their vanishing prospects, on cell phones, over cheap beers, across conference tables where no business is being conducted, no orders are being placed, no funds changing hands.
Note to Self: It’s very hard to make a plan when one’s pants are on fire, and even harder in a dead calm with nothing against which to exert any force – of will, by dint of effort, or exquisite plan.
More to follow…
Originally published October 23, 2008.
The Professor, as he is known to legions of business contacts throughout Asia, has been traveling to Hong Kong and elsewhere in the region since late in the last millennium. He is a native of Philadelphia, PA and maintains his permanent residence there. His poetry, fiction, interviews, and articles have been published by Philadelphia-area newspapers, magazines and anthologies, and he is currently planning another trip abroad. He is shown here at left, about to join the Maclehose Trail in Sai Kung.
Articles by the Professor
Column: Hong Kong Diary