«The dash for growth, as the government now admits, has been an unsustainable environmental disaster. China has 16 of the world's 20 most polluted cities, a rapidly falling water table, appalling river pollution, extensive desertification and a steady loss of scarce agricultural land. China can no longer feed herself; she can barely keep the lights on. But to sustain the growth required to make continued one-party rule sustainable, she plans a further burst of urbanisation that would constitute the largest ever movement of population - of a further 500 million peasants to the cities. To provide jobs for them the economy must keep expanding, regardless of the costs.
But the prosperity that visitors see in China's cities has been bought at the expense of the majority of the population - the 900 million people who languish in the Chinese countryside and who have, over the past four decades, been steadily robbed of their accumulated surpluses by a state that spent their savings on industrialisation and then on urbanisation.
[...]Today China is one of the most unequal societies in the world. Millions of former workers in state enterprises have lost jobs, healthcare and pensions. In the countryside, school and medical services have either collapsed or are so expensive that many can afford neither to see a doctor or send a child to school.»
--A rampaging market, but a long way from global power: To become a 21st century hegemon, China will need to share its wealth