The Panda Lobby, the pundits and policy wonks who want the US to imitate China’s state capitalism, has long celebrated what it claims to be China’s far sighted and effective approach to industrial policy. China, the Panda pundits tell us, will own the future because of its courageous subsidies to green technology and high speed rail. The meltdown of the Chinese solar industry has been widely reported; now comes word that the rail program is also in trouble.From the Wall Street Journal:
The railway ministry had a rough 2011: Top ministry officials were ousted on corruption charges; technical snafus marred the opening of its signature Beijing-Shangai bullet line; and July’s grisly train collision crushed government confidence its technology was the new global standard.
Spending on rail will fall 42 percent from projected levels, and the priority looks to shift from gee-whiz high speed bullet trains to the expansion of China’s overstretched freight network.Those of us who remember the short lived but intense Sushi Lobby, the Americans who thought the US needed to imitate the brilliant success of Japanese state capitalism back in those halcyon days of the 1980s when the grounds of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo were estimated to cost more than the entire state of California, will be waiting to hear how the Panda pundits explain the high speed rail meltdown.A stern and dignified silence, followed by a swift change of subject, is what the secret pundit manual recommends for situations like this one. We shall see.