||[Oct. 29th, 2005|10:53 am]
Joe has been showing me the Kung fu comedies of Stephen Chow. They're a bit Buster Keaton, a bit Police Academy, a bit Popeye the Sailorman (with chi in place of spinach.)|
I reckon we need to be educating ourselves about the Chinese- seeing as how they'll be taking over the role of top nation sometime in the course of the next century.
Learning about China is a project I've been proposing to myself ever since I fell in love with Michelle Yeoh in 1999. Thus far I haven't made a whole lot of progress.
I've been renting via Netflix some Extreme Engineering programs, and we watched last night the construction of the Hong Kong International Airport. What a prodigious project! And completed in seven years before the Chinese took Hong Kong back from England--they were afraid the Chinese government would scrap the 12 billion dollar project.
It's amazing what they accomplished so quickly--twenty three miles of two-story massive bridges built to withstand typhoons and also accommodate trains and trucks; new tunnels; new highway systems built on artificial coastline; and an entire new island, on which was built the amazing airport, the largest indoor structure in the world!
They did it in eight years.
I guess they had the chi flowing for them...
That's pretty amazing.
My dad was in that kind of work- pipelines and stuff- but he didn't work on the Hong Kong project (so far as I know)
The attempt, that is, was to complete the project in seven years, but it took eight. The new Chinese government allowed the extra year, because they could see the airport's usefulness.
Another Extreme Engineering program worth watching is the Chinese dream project, Sky City, which will cost plenty but will be a solution to their population woes. The apartment complex that will be self-contained, even to parks on every few floors. I wish I could remember the statistics, but the complex dwarfs every skyscraper on earth.
Every detail is addressed, such as fire control by air rather than by ground; opening in the massive structure to accommodate some natural weather in the parks; and a design that is planned with high winds in mind. It's fascinating to imagine living in such a place. I am cynical enough, however, to think that probably only the wealthy will be able to afford it.
That sounds really extraordinary- the kind of "city of the future" vision that used to feature in the old comics. The fact that the Chinese are thinking in these terms (and we aren't) strengthens me in my belief that they're heading for #1 superpower status.
I'm not really impressed by many of China's projects. The time I spent in architecture taught me that much of what China is intent on building isn't functionally efficient but rather meant to be symbols of greatness. I'm reminded somewhat of Brasilia when I hear about "great new things in China" because so much of it seems to be anti-humanist hubris meant to bust budgets and blow minds with its sheer scale.
As to China becoming the "top nation," it will be a relatively worthless position by that time. The US had the benefit of world wars and colonialism to devastate major powers and infantilize the minor players. The world China will be the major power in will be quite different and I think the Chinese government will find many of their hopes to have been unfounded.
Yes, I expect the Chinese century to feel very different from the American century. I don't see China strutting its stuff as a military superpower.
And what does it mean to be a military superpower anyway? It doesn't, for one thing, seem to guarantee that you're going to win any wars.