Maybe every blogger in China writes an entry about construction at some point. So I’m joining the club. Construction in China is, at times, unreal. An older 4-story building is there one day, rubble the next, picked through after a few weeks to sort the copper and rebar, cleared a week later, and construction starts soon after that. In January 2012, International Business Times reported that a 30-story hotel was built in 15 days in the Hunan Province in southern China. Make a joke about shoddy construction if you will, but they also reported that building was sturdy enough to withstand a 9.0 magnitude earthquake. Watch the time lapse here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwvmru5JmXk
Construction in Shenyang is remarkable. According to an Marketwatch article, Shenyang ranks #2 in the world in retail construction. I believe it. I’ve never seen so many shopping malls or retail stores. The article states that Shenyang is planning on 2.18 million square meters of retail space in 18 shopping development projects this year alone. Only 18? I don’t even have a concept of what 10 square meters is, let alone 2.18 million, but I know it’s a lot. China commands the top 3 spots on this retail construction list, and a ridiculous number of cities in the top 20. And it goes beyond retail. Caterpillar forecasted 10% growth in China’s construction equipment market for 2012. The company plans to double their workforce in China by 2015. Yes, there are concerns about a downturn finally reaching China, but growth is still expected. More than a billion people have to live and shop somewhere.
In addition to all of this retail space, Shenyang’s rust belt has amazing industrial activity. After all, that’s why we moved here. The Shenyang Economic Development Area in the Tiexi District includes new construction from Michelin, BMW, NHI and Coca-Cola. The high-tech development zone includes LG, Neusoft and Mitsubishi. Dadong Auto City contains the other new BMW plant, plus GM’s facility in China. Most people will read this and think all this production will result in more exports, thereby increasing the ongoing trade war with the US. I can’t speak for all of the companies, but I have heard from employees at three of these who say they can’t keep up with the China market, let alone export the products to other countries. And for those who think all that retail space is for LV copies… not so. Forbes says that by 2015, China will become the world’s largest luxury market. They love name brands.
On a daily basis, I am amazed with buildings in Shenyang… construction, rubble, aftermath, rebirth. We are even home to one of the ugliest buildings in the world, as voted by CNN.com. Construction seems to be neverending, or at least I don’t think we’ll see an end to it. As I look out the window just over the screen of this laptop, I can watch the daily progression of a Wulihe business center on the river. Looks like an amusement park ride at this point. There are quite a few shots of this construction in the photos; beginning May 18, through today, June 18. See for yourself. Are they imitating the Bird’s Nest in Beijing? Will there be any corkscrews or sidewinders when they get done? I’m not sure I’ll ever care too much for the building that took some of my river view, but I love to watch the cranes move.
During our time here, we will see the completion of the 72-story Maoye just up the street, which will be the tallest building in Shenyang. We have heard of people who don’t have cell coverage in their apartments on the 50th floor because the towers aren’t tall enough. We have seen the opening of two metro lines, with ongoing construction of the rest. We have watched fields go from grass or crops to neighborhoods in less than a year. And we have wondered, on more than a few occasions, what will we see next?