Saturday, April 05, 2008

China's Instant Cities

Numbers in China are bound to blow you away. Statistics are without fail staggering and one thing I found was that you really do experience these huge numbers, in terms of masses of people, number of taxi drivers, restaurants, shopping malls, factories etc. They're not just hand-wavy figures, you can actually see the true scale of things and watch in real-time as things change.

From Boing Boing came a link to this article in National Geographic - China's Instant Cities about the huge expansion in South East China, around Zhejiang province where most of the factories which make most of the goods in the world are based (this is little exaggeration).

I quote from some way through the article where the author details the type of 'mall' where the goods made in the factories in this area are sold:

Everything is sold in a town called Yiwu. For the Zhejiang pilgrim, that's the promised land—Yiwu's slogan is "a sea of commodities, a paradise for shoppers." Yiwu is in the middle of nowhere, a hundred miles (160 kilometers) from the coast, but traders come from all over the world to buy goods in bulk. There's a scarf district, a plastic bag market, an avenue where every shop sells elastic. If you're burned out on buttons, take a stroll down Binwang Zipper Professional Street. The China Yiwu International Trade City, a local mall, has more than 30,000 stalls—if you spend one minute at each shop, eight hours a day, you'll leave two months later

The article is well worth a read to discover the strange, inhuman nature which has overtaken this part of the land which has seen some 150 million people relocate to work in the area, sweating their lives away in the factories to make our lives a little more convenient.

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