Where there’s a will, there’s a way, or more precisely prior to its translation “Yu Gong moves the mountains“. So it was said of a peasant named Yu Gong after he struggled to move two mountains that were blocking entrance to his home. 2 mountains – that’s nothing. Now China is planning to flatten 700 mountains and spend AU$3.6 billion in the process, to be orchestrated by the government of Lanzhou, a provincial capital in China’s arid northwest.
The development, named the Lanzhou New Area of around 130,000 hectares, will house a new metropolis and in doing so is planning to increase the region’s GDP by AU$44 billion by 2030 according to the China Daily. The development was approved by China’s state council and will be its fifth state-level development zone and the first in its interior.
The first stage of mountain demolition commenced already in October 2012. China’s home grown “Donald Trump” – Yan Jiehe heads one of China’s largest private companies – the Nanjing-based China Pacific Construction Group. He is known as an ultra-ambitious and talented pilot through the country’s “guanxi”, or personal connections. In 2006 the respected Hu Run report named Yan – then worth about AU$1.3 billion – as China’s second-richest man.
This latest plan has received plenty of criticism as the site sits on the Yellow River, threatening more environmental concern and increasing its deadly silt level. Lanzhou is also home to 3.6 million people and they dubiously enjoy what the WHO regards as the worst air pollution in China. We guess metallurgy, chemical and fertilising production will do that. In fact experts have raised concerns about whether the project is environmentally viable. Gansu is an arid province, scoured by sandstorms and surrounded by deserts. The criticisms also includes the lack of water in the area and the financial risk of building a city in a desert – have we heard this before (Las Vegas)? The China Pacific Construction Group naturally dismiss these concerns and promise that their “protective style of development” will make things better than before.
The new area “will lead to an environmentally sustainable economy based on energy-saving industries” including advanced equipment manufacturing, petrochemical industries and modern agriculture, wrote Chinese Central Television on its website.
What do you think – incredible foresight, a waste of money, or needed development in an impoverished area? Let us know below.