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From one of our most influential journalists, here is a timely, vital, and illuminating account of the next stage of China’s modernization—its plan to rival America as the world’s leading aerospace power and to bring itself from its low-wage past to a high-tech future.
In 2011, China announced its twelfth Five-Year Plan, which included the commitment to spend a quarter of a trillion dollars to jump-start its aerospace industry. In China Airborne, James Fallows documents, for the first time, the extraordinary scale of China’s project, making clear how it stands to catalyze the nation’s hyper-growth and hyper-urbanization, revolutionizing China in ways analogous to the building of America’s transcontinental railroad in the nineteenth century.
Completing this remarkable picture, Fallows chronicles life in the city of Xi’an, home to 250,000 aerospace engineers and assembly-line workers, and introduces us to some of the hucksters, visionaries, entrepreneurs, and dreamers who seek to benefit from China’s pursuit of aeronautical supremacy. He concludes by explaining what this latest demonstration of Chinese ambition means for the United States and for the rest of the world—and the right ways for us to respond.
Travierso, Ping Wang, Sean Wang, Louis Woo, Candice and Jarrett Wrisley, Jenny and Bill Wright, Kevin Wu, Michael Zakkour, and Dan Guttman and ZeeZee Zhong. During a ten-week period early in 2010, I turned my part of the Atlantic’s Web site over to teams of guest bloggers while I was finishing a draft of this book. For their excellent work I am grateful to them all. For the record, the full list, including a number of people already mentioned, is: David Allen, Phil Baker, Mark Bernstein, Eric
nearly free loans. While they were going up, they had enriched construction companies, kept workers on the job, and boosted GDP figures for the local Party officials. What would become of them afterward no one could say.16 One night in 2007, while my wife and I were living in Shanghai, we looked out our twenty-second-floor apartment window and saw a worker fall from a nearby forty-story scaffolding where welding was going on around the clock. The blue glare of welding torches kept the night lit
forecasting, and safety devices. He spent his days in China talking to government officials about why they should change their policies, and providing specific suggestions of how the new policies should look. When he was in Beijing, Fiduccia explained to CAAC officials how they might coordinate their safety or inspection practices with international standards. When he visited Zhuhai or Xi’an or Badaling, he spoke with local airport authorities about the practicalities of setting up a flight
officials asked his Cirrus counterpart please to take the banner down before the speaking began. What was the problem? “The banner says ‘partners.’ But we are not partners. We are the owners.” The concept of ownership had survived the communist era intact. 7 * China’s Own Boeing The Chinese airliner of the future The world’s established aircraft-makers have one big question about China. It is their specific version of the question the rest of the world has about China as a whole. In its
first arrived in China, I wrote the one and only “I’ve just arrived, and here is what I’m wondering” article that journalistic convention permits each writer on first immersion in a country. Among the questions I said I wanted to answer was, What is the Chinese dream? Nearly six years later, I realize that it’s a silly or meaningless question, since for the foreseeable future the country’s ambitions will be fully satisfied by allowing hundreds of millions of people to realize their individual