Staunton, December 18 – Sometimes a single statistic gives a picture far broader than itself. One such has now appeared: the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat reports that in the last year, China built 88 buildings taller than 200 meters, while the Russian Federation built not a single one (skyscrapercenter.com/year-in-review/2018 and snob.ru/news/169797).
Part of the explanation, of course, lies in the economic boom China is experiencing and the economic crisis Russia is suffering as a result of its own policies and Western sanctions. But a larger part of it has deeper roots that may not change quickly even if the current economic situations in the two countries do.
And that reality is reflected in comments by Russian economist Vladislav Inozemtsev who observes that “the Chinese have built new businesses while we have divided up old ones” both in the course of oligarchic privatization and in the fight over existing assets now rather than in the creation of new ones (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2018/12/14/78942-kitaytsy-stroili-novye-biznesy-poka-my-delili-starye).
That was especially the case during oligarchic privatization, the economist continues, because Russia sold off the major natural resource producers and the new owners did little to develop them. China didn’t sell its counterparts and the managers were forced to compete with the private sector. They did and improved production.
Where Russians did start from nothing as many businesses do everywhere, they often worked miracles, developing new products, offering new jobs and making money for those behind them. China understood that and was willing to have that be a major part of the economy. In Russia it happened but without that understanding.
Unless Russia focuses on developing new businesses rather than dividing up existing ones as it has up to now in the largest cases, it will fall further and further behind, Inozemtsev suggests.
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