Après Nous, Le Déluge
I can perform all the economic analysis in the world, and it won’t convey the sheer apprehension I feel about China’s current situation anywhere near as well as the following pictures, found on ChinaSmack.
The gold-encrusted hallways, marble foyers, and imposing granite frontage are not from Versailles, or the Vatican, or even Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. They are from the newly completed corporate headquarters of state-owned Harbin Pharmaceutical, in northeast China. No word on exactly how much the literally palatial offices cost to construct, but the mind boggles. One prominent journalist from Chinese state TV severely criticized the company for its garish use of funds, explicitly comparing it to the Palace of Versailles, but some netizens posting online defended the monument as a natural expression of China’s prosperity:
What happened…? This is very normal. What’s the big deal? This is what the healthy development of a business looks like. So Chinese state-owned enterprises aren’t allowed to do this? I support Harbin Pharmaceuticals… Hope there will be even more enterprises like Harbin Pharmaceuticals…
For the last several months, I’ve been just waiting for the moment when somebody rolls up a big wad of 100 Renminbi notes into a cigar, sticks it in their mouth, and lights up. In the meantime, I’m going to have to settle for this as the next best thing.
“Healthy development of a business”? You decide (and for those who will be quick to note that America built Caesar’s Palace and all that other stuff, remember that those are entertainment venues that earn big profits, in large part due to their over-the-top opulence, not an overhead cost-center for running a business.)
Personally, it reminds me of the prophetic words attributed to Louis XV, a resident of the original Versailles: “après nous, le déluge” — or to paraphrase, “when this is over, all hell’s gonna break loose.”