China’s infrastructure: robbing peasants of water

posted at 9:20 am on August 25, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Barack Obama sang the praises of China’s infrastructure last week on the campaign trail, and while he may be all wet, thousands of Chinese farmers wish they were even slightly damp.  While Obama hailed the Beijing Olympics as a model for national investment, the Times of London did some actual research on how China actually managed to improve its infrastructure.  As anyone familiar with totalitarian systems could have guessed, they stole it:

THOUSANDS of Chinese farmers face ruin because their water has been cut off to guarantee supplies to the Olympics in Beijing, and officials are now trying to cover up a grotesque scandal of blunders, lies and repression.

In the capital, foreign dignitaries have admired millions of flowers in bloom and lush, well-watered greens around its famous sights. But just 90 minutes south by train, peasants are hacking at the dry earth as their crops wilt, their money runs out and the work of generations gives way to despair, debt and, in a few cases, suicide.

In between these two Chinas stands a cordon of roadblocks and hundreds of security agents deployed to make sure that the one never sees the other.

The water scandal is a parable of what can happen when a demanding global event is awarded to a poor agricultural nation run by a dictatorship; and the irony is that none of it has turned out to be necessary.

I know, I know … this isn’t the China that Barack Obama knows — and that’s the point.

Beijing at first thought that water demand would increase dramatically during the Games.  Instead of finding ways to increase water supply, they simply stole the water from the poor farmers in Baoding.  The government allowed the reservoirs to fill, tripled the price of water to keep farmers from using much of it, and then built hundreds of miles of pipeline to carry the hoarded water directly to Beijing.

The result?  A housing and land collapse in Baoding in which 31,000 became homeless.  And the most ironic part of the story is that the water wasn’t really needed after all.  When it became apparent that tourists had decided to skip the 2008 Olympics over the Tibet issue, or just because of the Chinese government in general, the need for the water evaporated.  And the infrastructural work that Obama hailed as a model for the rest of the world stopped abruptly, leaving half-build aqueducts and pipelines all over Baoding.

Did Beijing assist the farmers in Baoding after this grotesque miscalculation?  No — they sealed the area off so that people wouldn’t find out about it.  That’s another charming quality to totalitarian systems; they cannot abide being proven incompetent.

Fortunately, we still live in a democratic republic, where incompetence can be easily uncovered.  Obama’s paean to Chinese infrastructure demonstrates his own incompetence, and should disqualify him from the Presidency — as long as people pay attention.


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But “heir ports, their train systems, their airports are all vastly superior to us now.”(Obama)

chb03c on August 25, 2008 at 9:26 AM

Barack would be proud of China’s denials.

TooTall on August 25, 2008 at 9:26 AM

The Good Earth.

whitetop on August 25, 2008 at 9:26 AM

as long as people pay attention.

and therin, lies the problem.

MarkTheGreat on August 25, 2008 at 9:26 AM

But “their ports, their train systems, their airports are all vastly superior to us now.”(Obama)

chb03c on August 25, 2008 at 9:27 AM

The irony here is that if a similar project was done in the US that would deliver water to farmers rather than take it away, Obama and his liberal hordes would decry it. They would say it’s damaging the environment or some nonsence like that.

guitarplayer on August 25, 2008 at 9:28 AM

um uh erm uh…we have a lot to learn…wait a sec can’t hear myself, um uh China is a GOOD place to do business…..

sven10077 on August 25, 2008 at 9:28 AM

“As I’ve always said, China sucks,” -Hussein.

Akzed on August 25, 2008 at 9:28 AM

Useful idiot.

Kapitan on August 25, 2008 at 9:31 AM

Nothing Obama has said on the campaign so far has been as egregious as this comment; it shows either, his ignorance of the consequences of authoritarianism, or his dangerous radical leftist politics. Or both. I’ve said it here many times this man is a Marxist trojan horse masquerading his way into the White House.

God help us.

elduende on August 25, 2008 at 9:33 AM

Meh, what’s 30,000 people out of a billion? 50 gold medals is more important.

fossten on August 25, 2008 at 9:35 AM

Obama’s paean to Chinese infrastructure demonstrates his own incompetence, and should disqualify him from the Presidency — as long as people pay attention.

I don’t recall seeing anything about Obama’s ignorant and idiotic China remarks on the cable news channels last week. Did his comments get any coverage at all, other than on the internet?

Voters can’t be expected to pay attention to things they don’t know about.

AZCoyote on August 25, 2008 at 9:35 AM

Anyone care to place a wager on when the 3 Gorges Dam bursts? They’ll have plenty of water then.

BobMbx on August 25, 2008 at 9:35 AM

think about the amount of money they spent on their infrastructure..

and the unlimited amount of man power..
the totalitarianism…
the crushing of the free will..
the single child family limit..
..

DaveC on August 25, 2008 at 9:36 AM

Barack Hussein Obama knows what’s happening in China because his 3rd cousin led the protests and died gloriously on Tiananment Square.

Notorious GOP on August 25, 2008 at 9:37 AM

A candidate who’s all image is naturally going to be impressed with images, even from a totalitarian regime that’s repressing the Dali Lama and Tibet (yes, they’re repressing about a billion other people too, but to the trendy left Tibet’s the only really important area under Chinese control — if it weren’t for that, they’d be as totally OK with Beijing’s actions as they were with Moscow two decades ago).

jon1979 on August 25, 2008 at 9:37 AM

Quick somebody send a link to “The One” so he can tell us this is not the China he knew…

2Nightmares on August 25, 2008 at 9:37 AM

When VP Henry Wallace toured the Siberian gold mines during WWII, Stalin temporarily replaced the starving forced labor with well feed communists and employed other smoke & mirror tactics to make this useful idiot think everything was just peachy. “The more things change the more they stay the same.”

Disturb the Universe on August 25, 2008 at 9:37 AM

In between these two Chinas stands a cordon of roadblocks and hundreds of security agents deployed to make sure that the one never sees the other.

Someone get John Edwards on the case, immediately!

Frozen Tex on August 25, 2008 at 9:38 AM

When will we hear how China’s dilapidated power grid was manipulated to divert electricity from the peasants in the countryside to Beijing and it’s Olympic facilities? Well, that is where they actually had electricity in the first place.

Yeh, China’s our role model Barry. Should have taken a course on Perception vs Reality at Columbia instead of blowing weed and snorting cocaine.

fogw on August 25, 2008 at 9:41 AM

Mussolini ran the trains on time as well. Behind every liberal is a fascist waiting to assume power.

eaglewingz08 on August 25, 2008 at 9:41 AM

If you want to see a snapshot of ChiCom infrastructure projects, you can hit Google for information on the Three Gorges dam project. Millions of people displaced, huge damage to the environment, graft and corruption on an epic scale — and this is typical of Chinese infrastructure projects. Also, not many people know that the PLA (the Chinese Army) is a major business concern in China and funds many of these infrastructure projects.

mrmanley on August 25, 2008 at 9:41 AM

What ever they do, the farmers better not apply for a permit to protest the wrong done to them, otherwise they will end up in a hard labor “re-education” camp.

Blake on August 25, 2008 at 9:42 AM

In the capital, foreign dignitaries have admired millions of flowers in bloom and lush, well-watered greens around its famous sights. But just 90 minutes south by train, peasants are hacking at the dry earth as their crops wilt, their money runs out and the work of generations gives way to despair, debt and, in a few cases, suicide.

When called on this Barry will claim that it’s due to a global warming induced drought and will blame George Bush for not signing the Kyoto Treaty.

Buy Danish on August 25, 2008 at 9:42 AM

Praising communist China and in this clip slamming the Bible…
http://www.youtube.com/swf/l.swf?video_id=4FCNKwHRCQM
If the MSM should get outta the way, maybe one day folks will see him for who he is…a poverty pimp and a liar.

Ozprey on August 25, 2008 at 9:42 AM

In between these two Chinas stands a cordon of roadblocks and hundreds of security agents deployed to make sure that the one never sees the other.

Someone get John Edwards on the case, immediately!

Frozen Tex on August 25, 2008 at 9:38 AM

Great call, Tex. That should be an easy speed dial too, considering how David Axelrod worked for Edwards before Obama.

Buy Danish on August 25, 2008 at 9:46 AM

Maybe someone on McCain’s team should make an ad out of this, possibly even tying it in with the re-emergence of the Russian bear? It would definitely highlight Obama’s abject lack of understanding of foreign affairs and his vile put-downs of America. What a repugnant story; glad someone in the media (even if it had to be the Times of London and not an American outlet) decided to do some real investigating.

Dariaanne on August 25, 2008 at 9:46 AM

The chicoms agreed to allow people to apply for permits to protest and protest in specific areas. Every application for a permit was denied. Anyone who went to the protest area was arrested and deported or sent to a “re-education” camp. The chicoms suck.

Blake on August 25, 2008 at 9:49 AM

It’s high time for a McCain ad on Obama’s love affair with China.

The Left looked to China with great hope after the collapse of the Soviet Union, seeing it as the last best hope for challenging the free-market democratic system prevailing in the West.

The bad news for the Left is that China is in no position to challenge the US any time soon, and could even end up becoming an ally.

The good news for them is that it looks like the Soviet Union could be making a comeback…

EnglishMike on August 25, 2008 at 9:52 AM

This is just like the cheating with underage gymnasts. As soon as you start to have a little respect for China, you find out what’s really going on. They simply cannot do anything honestly or fairly.

jonezee on August 25, 2008 at 9:53 AM

I wonder if I am losing it a bit, but I’m starting to think maybe Obama doesn’t WANT to win? I mean praising China? Picking Biden? Outright lying about his vote on the born alive act? Skipping visiting wounded soldiers in Germany etc.

Maybe he just was hoping to get a VP slot at first. Even he couldn:t have thought he had a realistic shot when he got in. I think winning Iowa suprised him. Then he had the MSM behind him, Youtube videos (and he already had Oprah) But as he gets closer to actually taking the job, maybe subconsciously, even he realizes he IS NOT ready.(and any honest person would agree with that)Maybe being faced with the crisis in Georgia freaked him out? He can’t back out now though. Too many people are invested in him.

Either way I’m just thankful he is making all these mistakes. Even the MSM has to cover some of them. It would already be over if they actually were doing there job.Maybe Obambi is suprised with the free pass he’s gotten so far. I mean even the Clintons were shocked.

tottoritodd on August 25, 2008 at 9:58 AM

Goodness. Why these nuts were ever given the Olympics in the first place is still a mystery to me.
I can’t respect any country too afraid to give their people freedom.

Xolom on August 25, 2008 at 9:59 AM

the Times of London did some actual research on how China actually managed to improve its infrastructure. As anyone familiar with totalitarian systems could have guessed, they stole it:

Hey no fair doing actual research. That’s only done by bitter racists and is a distraction that does nothing to help Michelle’s children.

That’s another charming quality to totalitarian systems; they cannot abide being proven incompetent.

And is why The Obamassiah has such thin skin.

rbj on August 25, 2008 at 10:04 AM

Ed, unfortunately the law of our land is not much different from China’s, thanks to the abominable Eminent Domain decision in Kelo v. City of New London. In fact, our law is worse, since an argument can be made in a statist regime such as China that all of the land is actually owned by the governement.

My point is that I believe that all of Obama’s naivety, all of his gaffes, his gross lack of experience does disqualify him from the presidency, but… these reasons pale in comparison to the damage he could do to our country via his SCOTUS appointments.

lionheart on August 25, 2008 at 10:05 AM

I wonder if I am losing it a bit, but I’m starting to think maybe Obama doesn’t WANT to win?

I think you may be right. He’s been walking on water, but his confidence is going and he’s starting too sink, just like Peter.

Matthew 14:22-33

Which is funny, seeing how he’s supposed to be the messiah, and not the disciple…

EnglishMike on August 25, 2008 at 10:09 AM

Blake on August 25, 2008 at 9:49 AM

links? evidence?

p40tiger on August 25, 2008 at 10:18 AM

Meh, what’s 30,000 people out of a billion? 50 gold medals is more important.

fossten on August 25, 2008 at 9:35 AM

Exactly.

Glynn on August 25, 2008 at 10:18 AM

sign of the easily fooled – Obama ’08 avail at chachiinc.com

cpr on August 25, 2008 at 10:21 AM

lionheart on August 25, 2008 at 10:05 AM

You are right about the government owning the land in China. You can own the building, but the land it sits on is always the property of the government.

p40tiger on August 25, 2008 at 10:25 AM

Absolute control over their people while living the life of the elite.

No damn wonder, Barack and the rest of the leftist scum admire them.

G-man on August 25, 2008 at 10:28 AM

Gonna need an awfully big bus to throw China under.

Awilson on August 25, 2008 at 10:35 AM

p40tiger on August 25, 2008 at 10:18 AM

It was reported on ABC radio by their reporter covering the Olympics. If you wish to verify it, you’ll have to do your own homework.

Blake on August 25, 2008 at 10:35 AM

He keeps writing McCains ads for him.

ctmom on August 25, 2008 at 10:37 AM

China wanted this Olympic to be their official “breaking out” of their old persona and show the world that they have arrived as the world’s greatest power.

Instead what we saw was the old China with a new coat of paint, whether it was using underage athletes and covering the tracks when they were found out, or arresting citizens when they filed for the right to officially protest.

What really galled me was listening to the NBC crew as the cyclists and the marathon runners went around Tiananmen Square and giving the Chinese official version, never mentioning the massacre.

Liars need one thing in order to survive, someone who believes them. Which one of our presidental candidates more completely fills that definition?

itsspideyman on August 25, 2008 at 10:38 AM

He apologizes to the Germans and a month later says that China’s infrastructure is superior to the US. BO is about BO. He could careless for the Jews who suffered under the hands of Germans, nor care for the 100′s of thousands of dissidents stuck in China’s gulags for speaking out against their gov’t or for worshipping Christ.

jbh45 on August 25, 2008 at 10:46 AM

What really galled me was listening to the NBC crew as the cyclists and the marathon runners went around Tiananmen Square and giving the Chinese official version, never mentioning the massacre.
itsspideyman on August 25, 2008 at 10:38 AM

Maybe because the massacre did not take place in Tiananmen. Not one person is known to have been killed there. Try a couple of blocks down the way at Xidan. It was a bloodbath there (both protesters and soldiers being killed).

p40tiger on August 25, 2008 at 10:58 AM

Look for “half-brother George, has better water then suburban heartland America!”, soon from Obama.

TheHat on August 25, 2008 at 11:15 AM

Change “water” in this story to “oil” and you’ve got an inflated version of what the democratic party is already doing to us here. And that’s without the totalitarian power.

LibTired on August 25, 2008 at 11:31 AM

My visit to China last year gave me a very different view of the country than that of dear Mr. Obama. I was in Shanghai, which is one of their “special economic development zones.” Thus, just about everything in the city has been built within the past 5 – 10 years, and still has some of the shiny, newness to make it appear trendy and cool. The problem was that I couldn’t see much of the celebrated skyline the first three days I was there. Why? Because the air quality was so horrible, it obfuscated most of the view.

The city was also under constant construction; road crews worked on three different locations in the week I was there. It was dusty and dirty; I felt many times like I was walking the set of a gritty noir movie. And the smell! If you’ve ever been around a papermill — that’s what it smelled like. The. whole. city. It just seemed shrouded in gunk.

Going out to dinner was also an interesting experience. When reading Lee’s blog, it was mentioned that “smoking is a national vice.” I didn’t really understand this comment until we went out for our anniversary. The Chinese occupants of the restaurant smoked like freight trains: They had a cigarette lit almost the entire time they were there, and so the air was a bit hazy indoors as well!

And then there was the internet access. We stayed at a Western hotel in Shanghai with free wireless access. While I could access Michelle’s blog, Hot Air, and a few others, most of my morning reads were off-limits. I was constantly redirected to a crappy search engine page, providing me with “similar items.”

Once we returned, my husband and his best friend made an interesting observation: China is like the US in the 1950s, only with modern technology. I think this is pretty accurate. My only disagreement would be to say that it’s more like the Industrial Revolution meets the Atomic Age with Modern Technology. All they need are billboards advertising Chesterfields…

ScaryBiscuits on August 25, 2008 at 11:51 AM

Good work Ed. Maybe Bob Costas will send those farmers a water bottle with Chairman Mao’s picture on it. Those bottles are handy practice aides for sucking up to the Chicoms. Bob’s closing with Mao looking over his shoulder ended any respect I had left for him.

Mark30339 on August 25, 2008 at 11:55 AM

Any description of China that occupies only one or two short sentences is going to be false, regardless of whether made by the presidential candidate, Mr Obama, or one of his many detractors.

China has the Shanghai Maglev, a truly impressive piece of infrastructure. China is also enthusiastically and swiftly constructing new infrastructure, some of it very impressive, some of it less so. However China is also a land of construction projects that have been ‘almost finished’ ever since they were put into use: half-built roads, inadequate plumbing and countless other demonstrations of incompetence.

Whether China is an example of modernity or backwardness, whether it exemplifies excellence or incompetence, depends very much which way you are facing at the time. To find examples of each extreme adjacent to one another, a footstep or two apart, is so common as to be unremarkable.

YiZhangZhe on August 25, 2008 at 11:56 AM

When it became apparent that tourists had decided to skip the 2008 Olympics over the Tibet issue, or just because of the Chinese government in general, the need for the water evaporated.

I’ve been a regular reader of Mr. Morrissey for a long time now. I’ve always admired his pragmatism, insight, and clear writing style. But… that wordplay….

apostic on August 25, 2008 at 11:57 AM

YiZhangZhe on August 25, 2008 at 11:56 AM

Exactly right. China is a land of condradictions living side by side. That is why someone can be so certain about something in China, and be completely right and wrong at the same time. Any generalization about China is doomed to be simplistic.

p40tiger on August 25, 2008 at 12:01 PM

Maybe because the massacre did not take place in Tiananmen. Not one person is known to have been killed there. Try a couple of blocks down the way at Xidan. It was a bloodbath there (both protesters and soldiers being killed).

p40tiger on August 25, 2008 at 10:58 AM

Thanks for the correction; it only proves my point. While NBC glazed our eyes over with offical approved oratory the real story sat there, an elephant in the room that no announcer dared to touch.

itsspideyman on August 25, 2008 at 12:20 PM

A candidate who’s all image is naturally going to be impressed with images, even from a totalitarian regime…
jon1979 on August 25, 2008 at 9:37 AM

Small-minded people are only impressed by Really Big Things.

That’s the lure of collectivism: a giant pyramid is easy to see. The thousands of slaves buried under it are out of sight and out of mind.

logis on August 25, 2008 at 12:32 PM

Man, reading this…even if I knew these sorts of things have been/continue to go on…it’s still utterly depressing to read about them. Those poor people.

That’s the lure of collectivism: a giant pyramid is easy to see. The thousands of slaves buried under it are out of sight and out of mind.

logis on August 25, 2008 at 12:32 PM

Yep.

JeepGirl on August 25, 2008 at 12:40 PM

Oh you Americans, thinking you can just go on drinking as much water as you want. – Obama

- The Cat

MirCat on August 25, 2008 at 12:58 PM

Hmmmmmm….

They sealed off Baoding province, kinda like the IUC tried to seal off the Chaicago Annenberg challenge papers….

The only difference is that IUC will only be able to sanitize the records, instead of disappear them completely-like much of Glibama’s paper trail!

Besides, you must be lying anyway….NBC didn’t mention this alleged injustice by the amazing, utopian, Chinese government……

RACISTS!!!

RocketmanBob on August 25, 2008 at 1:38 PM

Maybe because the massacre did not take place in Tiananmen. Not one person is known to have been killed there. Try a couple of blocks down the way at Xidan. It was a bloodbath there (both protesters and soldiers being killed).

But that is where the protest occurred. The killing just took place elsewhere. Move the people out of sight then murder them. Typical Marxist modis operandi.

Steveangell on August 25, 2008 at 4:31 PM

Bloody Twit

sonnyspats1 on August 25, 2008 at 4:32 PM

Senator Stinker (B.O.) is too busy tweaking speeches for emotional impact to actually have his speeches and comments FACT CHECKED. The Chinese will love him for his ignorance. He’ll be so much more easily manipulated. He certainly has broken new ground in his arrogance.

The International Olympic Committee is staffed by a bunch of spineless twits. China should not have even been allowed to host the games, given their all around villainy (Gold Medal there). It is disgusting to see them be allowed to host an international event that is a token of international cooperation. Beijing is barbaric, and I feel very sad for the billion plus people subdued by its tyranny. And we, the country that touts freedom, participate in the spectacular farce. Guess its only logical since our policy makers turn a blind eye in so many other ways.

Derf on August 25, 2008 at 5:21 PM

It takes a Potemkin village.

BDavis on August 25, 2008 at 10:44 PM