Byline: Michael A. Lev
BEIJING _ They loom over the cityscape like invading flocks of mechanical beasts _scores of towering construction cranes nesting in every direction. Several thousand dot the horizon of China's capital, making it a contender for the title of world's largest building site.
Government officials estimate 1 million construction workers are on the job in Beijing, spread across thousands of projects. Condominiums, office blocks, luxury hotels, shopping malls: All are going up in the frenzied rush of a giddy economic boom, fueling fears that this is the most indulgent, overly optimistic speculative fever since the American Internet debacle or the great real estate crash of Japan.
Beijing already has one new ghost town, a redeveloped street of shopping malls that stands empty and unwanted just south of Tiananmen Square.
Yet this is China, the newly dominating factory to the world, not an illusory investment scheme. The country is churning out real goods and attracted $57 billion in foreign investment last year. The national economy is growing at a dynamic 10 percent clip, creating new wealth so quickly that Beijing residents bought 82 percent more cars in January compared to a year earlier.
So maybe this is what a country in a hurry is supposed to look like.
The debate over investment in …