Thursday, June 14, 2007

Economic development outside of Rivendell…

Chengdu, as mentioned previously, is the socioeconomic capital of southwest China. It is quite impressive. That impressiveness does not, however, extend to the entire area.

On our way to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding (also known as the “Panda Adventure”), we witnessed rather stark difference in living conditions between city and suburban dwellers. I cannot comment on the presence of utilities or household equipment, but the general upkeep of the buildings declines dramatically, and the age of the buildings rises, as we get farther from downtown Chengdu.

One striking feature of the landscape is the presence of family enclaves of four or five houses surrounded by rice paddies, and only rice paddies. There is nothing like it that I have seen in the western hemisphere. Caitlin noted that rice grows in China like corn does in Ohio, and she’s right. It does; it is omnipresent outside of the city. Which leads me to this thought: there are two reasons to grow a crop. Either it is very profitable, or it is very subsidized, because farmers aren’t growing that much of any crop for subsistence. We know which is true in Ohio. Given the nature of the government of China, which do you think it is here?

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