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Rust-belt decline poses threat to Chinese growth

来源:FT中文网    2018-03-05 07:17

        Echo Zhang has long given up on moving back to her hometown in north-east China to be closer to her ageing parents. There simply aren’t any jobs.        Echo Zhang早已放弃了这个念头:回到中国东北老家,距离她年迈的父母近一点。那里根本没有什么工作。
        “In Beijing I see new technologies changing the city continuously,” the 39-year-old engineer says. “But when I go back to Jilin, it’s like stepping back in time — it’s developed so slowly.”        “在北京,我看到新技术正持续改变着这个城市,”这位39岁的工程师表示,“但当我回到吉林,就好像时光倒流,它发展得太慢了。”
        Jilin, Liaoning and Heilongjiang, the three provinces of north-east China, were once the pride of the country’s planned industrial economy.        中国东北三省——吉林、辽宁和黑龙江曾经是中国计划工业经济的骄傲。
        But they have been among the worst hit by the scaling back of traditional heavy industries such as coal and steel and by the long-term decline in its state-owned enterprises. The north-east’s contribution to gross domestic product almost halved to 7 per cent in 2016 from 13 per cent in 1980.        然而,煤炭和钢铁等传统重工业的收缩以及国有企业的长期衰落,让它们受到最为严重的影响。东北地区对中国国内生产总值(GDP)的贡献从1980年的13%降至2016年的7%,下降近一半。
        As China’s economic growth slows, economists warn that bad loans and lossmaking “zombie” companies are concentrated in trouble-spots such as the north-east. One of its three provinces, Liaoning, last year suffered the first official recession in China since 2009, shrinking by 2.5 per cent.        随着中国经济放缓,经济学家警告称,不良贷款和亏损“僵尸”企业集中在东北等问题地区。东北三省之一的辽宁2016年出现中国自2009年以来的第一例正式负增长,经济收缩2.5%。
        “The north-east’s decline is a major risk to the Communist party’s goal to deliver a moderately prosperous society,” says Kathryn Rand, former political officer at the British Embassy in Beijing.        英国驻华大使馆前政治处项目官员兰心(Kathryn Rand)表示:“东北地区的衰落是中国共产党建立小康社会目标的一个重大风险。”
        “This is a particular concern given the north-east’s geopolitical importance bordering North Korea and Russia, where economic and social stability is seen as essential to maintaining the status quo.”        “鉴于东北地区的地缘政治重要性,这尤其令人担忧,该地区与朝鲜和俄罗斯接壤,经济和社会稳定被视为对保持现状至关重要。”
        Beijing has sought to revitalise the region by subsidising the state-owned agricultural, steel and petroleum enterprises that dominate the north-eastern economy, but this strategy has come under fire from some of the country’s most prominent economists.        中国一直希望通过补贴主宰东北经济的国有农业、钢铁和石油企业来重振该地区的发展,但该战略遭到中国一些最知名经济学家的抨击。
        “A strategy that expands the output of enterprises that are not viable is a strategy that goes against comparative advantage,” Justin Yifu Lin, a former World Bank chief economist, wrote last year.        前世界银行(World Bank)首席经济学家林毅夫去年写道:“没有企业自生能力的产值扩张战略,也就是违背比较优势的战略。”
        He proposed a switch in state support to sectors in which the region enjoys advantages over the rest of the country, such as labour-intensive light industry, which would benefit from the region’s relatively cheap wages, and tourism.         他提出,政府支持应转向该地区相对于中国其他地区具备优势的行业,例如劳动密集型轻工业(这些行业将受益于该地区相对低廉的薪资)和旅游业。
        Hu Shuli, founder of business magazine Caixin, responded that the region should “shed its big government mindset”, and allow private business to flourish.        商业杂志《财新》创始人胡舒立回应说,该地区应摆脱大政府思维,允许民营企业繁荣发展。
        Andrew Batson, China research director at the Gavekal Dragonomics consultancy, says the battle over the future of the north-east “is a proxy debate for the choices facing China, between market-orientated reforms or state-driven industrial policy”. Government pledges to allow the private market to flourish are at odds with continued state subsidies for government enterprises and locals are increasingly vocal about the failure of local officials to enact market-driven policies.        咨询公司龙洲经讯(Gavekal Dragonomics)中国研究主管白安儒(Andrew Batson)表示,围绕东北未来的纷争“代表着有关中国面临的选择的辩论,是选择市场导向型改革还是政府驱动型产业政策”。政府承诺允许民营市场繁荣与政府继续补贴国有企业互相矛盾,当地人正越来越多地抱怨地方官员未能实施市场化政策。
        While three-quarters of Chinese graduates chose to work in their home regions last year, according to Beijing-based consultancy Mycos, the figure was less than half in the north-east. About 1.8m are estimated to have left the north-east in the past decade.        根据北京咨询公司麦可思(MyCos)的数据,尽管四分之三的中国毕业生去年选择回到家乡工作,但在东北地区,这个数字不到一半。据估计,过去10年,大约180万人离开东北。
        “I have no hope for a ‘north-eastern revival’,” says Hao Xuesong, a property developer. Back in Jilin city for a school reunion, his pessimism is shared by former classmates, who say the north-east’s sluggishness is the result of its officials being too “left” — bureaucratic, rigid and wedded to the old ideal of the planned economy.        房地产开发商郝雪松表示:“我对‘东北振兴’不抱希望。”在吉林的一次同学聚会上,他的同学们也持这种悲观态度,他们表示,东北的萎靡不振是官员们过于“落后”的结果:官僚主义、死板以及拘泥于计划经济的旧观念。
        The bureaucracy is also riddled with corruption, according to a former Liaoning civil servant who now works for a multinational company in Shanghai. She says she left “because I couldn’t find a suitable job” in the civil service.        据现供职于上海一家跨国公司的一名前辽宁公务员表示,官僚主义还充斥着腐败。她表示,她离开是“因为我(在公共部门)找不到合适的工作”。
        “I think the problem is not that getting a promotion is difficult, the problem is it’s not transparent,” she says. “I don’t have the social connections to secure a job in state-owned banks or even local commercial banks. Private companies in Liaoning are less well paid.”        “我认为,问题不是升职很难,问题是不透明,”她表示,“我没有人脉在国有银行或者哪怕地方商业银行获得一份工作。辽宁的私营企业薪资不高。”
        The north-east has also struggled to attract investors. It was the only region in China in which private fixed-asset investment fell from 2016-2017.        此外,东北地区还很难吸引投资者。这里是中国唯一一个在2016年至2017年私人固定资产投资出现下降的地区。
        Ma Jiantang of the Chinese Academy of Governance told a recent government conference that many entrepreneurs believed “investment should not cross the Shanhai pass”, a section of the Great Wall of China that divides the north-east from the rest of the country.        国家行政学院(Chinese Academy of Governance)的马建堂最近在一次政府会议上回应了很多企业家认为的“投资不过山海关”的问题。山海关是中国万里长城的其中一段,把中国东北部与其他地区分隔。
        Zhang Lihua, director of tech company Changchun Boli, also acknowledges that the north-east is at a competitive disadvantage. “There’s a good foundation for growth here, if we can make reforms. But the southern provinces compete aggressively for talent and companies, and the north-east is some way behind.”        长春博立电子科技公司董事张立华也承认,东北处于竞争劣势。“如果我们能实施改革,这里有良好的发展基础。但南方省份正大力争夺人才和企业,东北有些落后。”
        Lu Xiaomeng, assistant professor at the Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance at Jiao Tong University who grew up in the north-eastern city of Harbin, is confident private investment will slowly rise. But this can only happen if the power of the SOEs is curbed.        上海交通大学上海高级金融学院(Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance)助理教授鲁小萌是在中国东北城市哈尔滨长大的。她认为,私人投资将缓慢增长。但只有限制国有企业的影响力,这种情况才会发生。
        “The problem of SOEs’ influence is a nationwide issue," she adds. “It’s just that SOEs dominate the north-eastern economy. My hope is the private sector can thrive.”        “国有企业影响力的问题是一个全国性问题,”她补充称,“国有企业主宰着东北经济。我希望民营企业能繁荣发展。”
        Additional reporting by Xinning Liu and Yingzhi Yang        刘心宁和Yingzhi Yang补充报道

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