I had occasion to visit the neighbouring city of Tianjin a couple of weeks back. The opening of a high-speed rail shuttle (trains every 10 or 15 minutes throughout the day, with most of them taking only a little over half an hour) has made this an attractive option for occasional day-trips out of The Beige. Being near the coast, with a small river running through the middle of it, Tianjin is a considerably greener and fresher proposition than my dust-clogged, smog-choked hometown. But I digress.
I had an hour or so free before my meeting, so took advantage of the first day of properly warm spring weather to go for a stroll along the riverbank. There are several large construction sites adjacent to the railway station in the centre of Tianjin, ranged along either side of the river. Most of them seemed eerily quiet, almost deserted. Quite a few were completely deserted. They had that ominous air of buildings that have been left half-finished for months (or years) and seem likely to remain so permanently. (We had a fair few of those in Beijing 6 or 7 years ago, but they all got tidied up ahead of the Olympics.)
I counted around two dozen tall cranes distributed among these sites. Only three of them were in operation.
Mere anecdote! Flawed observation? Isolated, untypical, statistically insignificant instance.
Perhaps. But I get the impression the construction boom has ground to a halt in Tianjin city centre, as in many other places across China.