As most of the Western world struggles with the financial excesses of recent years, here in Australia, we seem to have defied the international trend. Australia has yet to succumb to the forces of economic decline being experienced in other Western nations, thanks largely to Chinese demand for our natural resources. ‘Lucky Country’ remains an apt description for the nation nearly 50 years after Donald Horne first used it to describe a country whose international standing is determined more on geological circumstance rather than on innovation and originality.
Chinese manufacturing is an important gauge for the continuing economic fortunes of Australia. As Western demand turns fallow, some economists anticipate Chinese demand to take up the slack and maintain existing production levels. This scenario is dependent on the continued expansion of the Chinese middle class, and in recent years new cities have been rising from the plains to accommodate the new consumer. However, booming property prices have made many cities unaffordable to most people, to the point where whole cities remain largely unpopulated.
The ghost city is an intriguing addition to China’s rich landscape heritage, a sub-genre in landscape and land art proffered by the new capitalism. One example is Kangbashi, a new city located in the autonomous region of Inner Mongolia. Intriguingly, the surrounding landscape is not only similar in appearance to some of the mineral rich areas of Australia, but also the scale of construction reflects the scale of mining undertaken here. As their towers push toward the heavens, our mines sink to greater depths.
China has emerged in recent years as an imposing economic force. Its manufacturing sector looms large, however structural deficiencies could still undermine its economy. James Kynge likens China to a lobster – threatening from the front, but weak at the back. Australia’s ongoing status as a lucky country is dependent on these foundations.