I wasn’t a fan of city planners in my hometown in America and their reputations as a lot have failed to improve since I arrived in China. Development here moves at a shocking pace seemingly in spite of the laws of economics. They say that if one door closes, another one opens, and the Chinese, whether or not they’re familiar with that particular expression, take it literally. If one shop closes, another one opens overnight. If there’s a foot of ground space somewhere, they’ll erect a skyscraper. Well, whatever fits.
Granted, China has more than a billion people, but that doesn’t mean there’s a need for development on this scale. In Qingdao City there are about 3 million people (Qingdao as a whole is a regional area that covers an absurd amount of land, home to roughly 8 million people altogether). I’m guessing maybe 5% of that number can afford the rent in the places being built, which would explain why so many of them are sitting empty. Friends who know have said that the business model here is to build a skyscraper and sell it to make a profit in the short-term, leaving someone else to deal with the daunting prospect of renting it out and trying to make it commercially viable in the long term. Sigh…
There was an old German compound at the end of my street that I had hoped they would preserve and turn into a museum or, at the very least, a shopping center with character. But they bulldozed it. Now I’ve my fingers crossed it’ll become a quaint park. For the time being it’s just a pile of rubble that’s been there for months.
All that being said, the other day I looked out the window into the parking lot behind my school. There’s an island of grass in the middle and lying on it were some pipes and boards wrapped up in cellophane or whatever pipes and things come wrapped in. "Really?" I thought to myself, "what simply has to go in here?" But then I realized that it was playground equipment. I don’t know who payed for it and I don’t know how long it’ll last, but they built a little playground outside. It’s probably only for the kids who go to the school that’s adjacent to mine, but it’s better than nothing – or worse – something else.