Shake that Money Maker

China’s Great Wall of Debt takes both a bird’s-eye and street-corner look at what is undoubtedly the global economy’s most vexing question. In its pursuit of an unending cycle of annual economic gains, infrastructure rollout and technological catchup, just how much debt has China accumulated in the course of its red-hot stimulus frenzy since the Great Financial Crisis of 2008?

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The Chinese Babel

AN OLD JOKE in linguistics runs: What is the difference between a language and a dialect? (pause for dramatic effect) A language is a dialect with its own army.

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Travels in an empty land

The author of Destruction and Sorrow Beneath the Heavens, László Krasznahorkai, Hungarian writer and poet, Booker Prize winner, condemns his quest to find any remaining evidence of Chinese civilization to failure from Page 1—as if the book’s title had not alerted the reader to what lay ahead.

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Lost ground

When Somerset Maugham passed through Burma, Siam and Indochina in 1923 — a journey documented in The Gentleman in the Parlour — he described Phnom Penh’s riverside Grand Hotel as “large, dirty and pretentious”.

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The road – on Khao San

For most travelers, Khao San comes at the end of one journey—the red-eye via Kuwait or Karachi, the shoulder-to-shoulder overnight bus from the north or the south of Thailand—and the beginning of another.

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The Chinese friend

Chinese, like Japanese, are all for tours. Every self-respecting tourist attraction has its hierarchy of sights, its hoary accretion of wide-eyed lore and its filing-cabinet litany of statistics.

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Lost (in) Tibet

1,700km west of Lhasa, Tibet’s holiest mountain is the approximate source of Asia’s four greatest rivers: the Ganges, the Brahmaputra, the Indus and the Sutlej. It is also the Mount Meru of Hindu legend. Nobody was telling me I couldn’t go.

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The fall guy

We tend to be too earnest about China—the opacity of its politics, the sufferings foisted upon its people by a capricious government bent on maintaining one-party rule at all costs, the hagiographies of the system’s entrepreneurial winners.

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