Read in de Volkskrant of 24 October 2015:


Willem-Alexander, king of the Netherlands, was visiting China just this week. His busy programme was published in one of the Dutch newspaper: Beijing first, then far west to Yanan, back to Chongmin Dongtan and Shanghai, ending up in Hangzhou, south of Greater Shanghai. So half nature, half urban. Last Monday – his first day in China – Mr. Willem-Alexander gave a lecture at the public school of the Communist Party in Beijing. Theme: transparancy. De Volkskrant: “A bit exciting will be his speech at the educational institute of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. For an audience of high level civil servants and CEO’s from big Chinese companies, the king will talk about transparency, a theme that in China comes close to corruption.” However, on Tuesday, the day after, I couldn’t find anything  in the newspapers on how well the king’s speech was received. Only an article on panda bears being given by president Xi as a present to the Dutch government after so many years of diplomacy, was published in NRC Handelsblad. Panda bears!

In his ‘Ghost Cities of China’ (2015), Wade Shepard describes how the former mayor of Shanghai, Mr. Chen Liangyu, was the visionary and driving force behind Shanghai’s ‘One City, Nine Towns’ suburban renewal project. Now he is in jail, being accused of corruption. “With him locked up, his development projects have been virtually forgotten, his successors having moved on to new projects of their own.” This story, the writer adds gloomily, can be replicated all across China. Corruption evidently everywhere. President Xi wants to end it. But what happened to the nine towns around Shanghai after the mayor was being imprisoned? Shepard revisited the place. All around the periphery of Shanghai “there sits a massive network of new towns suspended perilously between conception and completion.” Hope the king has not seen panda bears only, but unlucky new towns too.





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