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China's Black Market City
July 20, 2013 1:25 PM   Subscribe

Chen Mingyuan has lived here all his life, but he still gets lost every time he drives into Wenzhou. “All the roads in this town were built by businessmen, so none of them make any sense,” Chen says as we back out of what we just discovered is a one-way street. For the last 30 years, private citizens in this southeastern China metropolis have largely taken over one of the least questioned prerogatives of governments the world over: infrastructure. Is Wenzhou, the richest city in China's richest province, a libertarian paradise?
posted by shivohum (13 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
It wasn't on this day, at least.
posted by gimonca at 1:44 PM on July 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


“All the roads in this town were built by businessmen, so none of them make any sense"

There's your answer.

Seriously, though, if the article is trying to argue that lack of government oversight is behind the community's riches, it does a pretty poor job. It reads a bit like someone visiting a developing country for the first time and being amazed that there is corruption and widespread illegality.
posted by seemoreglass at 1:50 PM on July 20, 2013


China's scam-ridden "shadow banking" sector, concentrated in Wenzhou, may be the next big subprime debt crisis, but solutions are hard to come by
posted by Bwithh at 1:52 PM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's your answer.

Well I don't know, it sounds a lot like Boston.
posted by shivohum at 1:53 PM on July 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


gimonca, on that day, it definitely does demonstrate a "libertarian paradise", in the same way the fertilizer plant explosion showed off Texas as a "libertarian paradise". Libertarianism being "Rule by non-governmental entities determined by greatest wealth with total disregard for everyone else."

As for China's "shadow banking" providing "the next subprime debt crisis", I think it will totally redefine China's ICBC as the ultimate "Too Big To Fail" enterprise, just because it's joined at the hip to China's Laughingly-Still-Calling-Itself-Communist Government, with the people left owing the "nonperforming loans" filling a new generation of Re-education Camps.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:12 PM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


The words "libertarian paradise" always make me think of Snow Crash or Somalia.

Poor impulse control, indeed.
posted by Foosnark at 2:20 PM on July 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


It wasn't on this day, at least.
This reminds me of one of my all-time favorite Metafilter comments.
posted by Flunkie at 2:22 PM on July 20, 2013


I would very much like to hear what James C. Scott makes of Wenzhou.

Also, the IMF just recently issued a warning to China about its unrestricted economic growth.
posted by R. Schlock at 4:13 PM on July 20, 2013


Please don't try to discourage the libertarians from relocating to their newfound paradise of Wenzhou.
posted by humanfont at 5:48 PM on July 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


Wenzhounese: The Jews of the Orient?(!)
posted by 2N2222 at 12:42 AM on July 21, 2013


It wasn't on this day, at least.

Baltimore suffered a similar milky-white fate a few days ago
posted by destro at 10:00 AM on July 21, 2013


Here's an interesting NYT op ed about Mumbai from just a few days ago. Doesn't support or contradict Gardner's take on Wenzhou's development necessarily, but illustrates a differing dynamic of how urban development in an Asian country plays out under some circumstances that apply, and some that don't.
posted by 2N2222 at 1:08 PM on July 21, 2013


"Is Wenzhou, the richest city in China's richest province, a libertarian paradise?"

No, Somalia is.
posted by laz-e-boy at 9:02 AM on July 22, 2013


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