China shoddy infrastructure construction

This article (China’s Global Mega-Projects Are Falling Apart - WSJ) gives some examples of poor construction by Chinese companies in infrastructure projects in the developing world.

In 2000s, I was a fan of emerging markets, including China, and investing in the emerging markets index, such as VWO and EEM. These investments boomed up until the financial crisis when everything tanked. Then in 2010s these investments went virtually nowhere while US investments continued a nice climb upward.

As I learned more about China, I realized the risk of investing in companies trying to operate in an economy with so much government control. This government interference pulls the economy away from the free market forces that allow the best companies to rise to the top and the weaker companies to sink to the bottom.

I am no free market purist as I believe in reasonable health and environmental regulations, for example.

These examples of the China real estate bubble, mishandled policy on Covid vaccines, and poor infrastructure builds are just some reasons (I’m sure people can find many more examples) why I have little faith in China markets as an investment theme.

These examples also make me much less concerned (although my concern is not zero) about China as a economic and military competitor to the US. I wouldn’t be surprised to see their Navy and associated logistics struggle in a Taiwan conflict with US involvement in the same way Russia has underperformed in Ukraine (let me caveat this with I don’t know sheet about military anything).

And, let me be clear, this is not about the Chinese people who are polite, hard working, family focused and have a beautiful culture (I have studied and worked with many). They are just trying to make their way on this planet just like all of the rest of us.


Some people anywhere are polite and hardworking.

Others can not get out of their own way. True anywhere.

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I used to go to China regularly and had missionary friends in China who recently retired and moved back stateside and New Zelandside (?). Heard plenty stories of construction mishaps from them and even saw several oddities myself. The oddest one was with a small rural town/city building an extension onto its hospital. The had a pile driver just randomly driving in footings/posts into the ground. And this was for a 4 story addition so carrying some weight. Made no sense.