What does spending $20bn on the world 's longest bridge say about the strength of China 's economy?
There is this very interesting book by French writer Georges Bataille called the Accursed Share.
Bataille published this treaty of general economy after the 2nd World War. He explains how economists should look at the ways countries manage the excess they generate. Every actor in the economy has some excess of what he called “energy” to his disposal and he will chose to waste at least a part of it. By looking at this “accursed share”, you can understand its economics and political motivations.
The Macau-Zhuhai Bridge is a sacrifice of resources to celebrate the power of the empire. In Chinese, politics is the art of managing flows, starting with water (政治) . Every dynasty has been doing giant infrastructure projects like this, and they became part of their historical legacy.
The bridge says nothing about China’s economy and everything about Chinese politics projecting power. They can waste that money just like that if they wish. The planners didn ‘t even know if the bridge will go to Shenzhen or Hong Kong when they started building it.
Hong Kong felt isolated on its own little island? Now there is a bridge. And also a super-fast train direct to Guangzhou that just opened. Everything is a 45 min of reach in the delta now. Hong Kong is becoming such a small piece of the puzzle.
People look at the bridge like the fools who look at the finger that points to the moon. The bridge is the mark of the emperor, and it is pointing towards a much bigger ambition : the integration of the Pearl River Delta region into one single giant urban hub.
This text was originally published in quora.