We read about it in the news and it can send shudders up the spines of many who live in or plan to visit China. China appears to be collapsing one to several structures at a time.
At first it was rather subtle as you read in the news about a mining accident in China. Nothing too spectacular about that, mining is dangerous and accidents do happen. But then you hear about another and yet another after that and you start to take notice something is wrong as a very clear pattern starts to emerge.
Then on May 12, 2008 there was that terrible 7.9 earthquake in eastern Sichuan China and entire towns were leveled and thousands lost their lives. Once again people thought a 7.9 is on the large size and certainly would qualify as ‘The Big One’ that people in California are waiting for. But the destruction percentage was very high and it at least raised an eyebrow. Investigations were launched inside China looking at how the buildings were made. But for the most part people simply came to the conclusion that a 7.9 would do major damage even in places where buildings were build with earthquakes in mind.
However as time went on the news started talking more and more about relatively new buildings collapsing and that started to tickle the survival instinct trigger in some. Newer buildings should not collapse. Hearing about some building collapse that is nearing 100 years old is one thing, but buildings that are 10 years old is entirely another story.
Then on other quality fronts you start to hear about chemicals dumped into milk to cheat the quality tests and suddenly you have enough dots to show behavior that seems to run across the board. When connected the dots spell out very clearly shoddy quality, and the practice has been going on for some time.
Taking into consideration some of the problems are not competition based to beat the price of a competitor, that simply leaves greed and making a bigger profit as the root cause. The worst part is this has been going on for some time. Using the age of younger building collapses as a crude hourglass you come up with a rough number of 10 to 20 years. Then you quickly conclude a lot has been built in 10 to 20 years. A significant chunk of Shenzhen was built and for the longest time the skyline had construction cranes as a regular feature. The same was typical all across China.
After all of this you can not help but wonder how safe these buildings are, and what would happen if mother earth decided to give a rumble. We are not talking about 5 to 10 story buildings, we are talking about buildings that are 30 and 40 stories tall in many cases. It seems action by the government was not taken simply because records were falsified, and the people entrusted to be honest were not. Corruption certainly played a roll in the flexing of neck muscles to look the other way.
In this case China wished this never happened, and they are doing their best to make things seem like they are under control. Some people have been put to death by the courts sending a message to others who may think to do the same. And certainly there will be a marked change in quality as those low prices people have grown accustom to from China go up. For the most part this is fine and wonderful for products coming out of Chinese factories now, but the buildings that people must work and live in that were built before the inspectors got new glasses are a big concern. The cancer runs deep and can not be fixed by starting now after the fact. It is entirely possible many buildings will need to be demolished and rebuilt as the materials used are likely substandard and not what the engineer ordered.