Beijing’s airport to be world’s largest

They must be a global superplayer; after all, they’ll soon have the world’s biggest airport.

A new airport being built by the Chinese government in time for the 2008 Beijing Olympics will be the world’s biggest and be “truly awesome”, according to its British architect, Lord Foster.

In further evidence of the Chinese obsession with building bigger, faster and higher than any other country, the plans for Beijing Airport will outdo both the current biggest, Hong Kong’s, and Heathrow, which is set to double in size when Terminal 5 is finished.

It will also take less than three years to complete, Lord Foster said. That compares with Terminal 5, which was put before a public inquiry in 1995 and approved in 2001 but which is not expected to open until 2008.

In this case I have to give some credit to the CCP, which has trimmed down the grandiose project a bit because, “They have been keen to present a more modest image in recent months, reducing the scale of plans for the Olympic stadia and saying they wish to focus more on poverty reduction.”

“Saying.” I certainly hope it’s true, but one can’t avoid the fact that they’re now committed to building the world’s tallest skyscraper, the world’s largest dam, the world’s longest bridge and the world’s biggest airport. I just wish they’d announce they were launching the world’s most ambitious distribute-the-wealth project. Then they might really gain some of the international respect they so desperately crave. (And I don’t mean welfare — just paying their people for the fruit of their labor and lessening the unsustainable unconscionable division between the haves and have-nots.)

Meanwhile I’m glad to hear they’ll be doing away with the current Beijing airport, which ranks among the drabbest and shabbiest on earth., at least for a major capital city.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 18 Comments

>I just wish they’d announce they were launching the world’s most ambitious distribute-the-wealth project.

That would be so cool, but we all know they won’t.
Also, given the stance of all major world countries on wealth distribution, I think it would be very unlikely to gain them any more international respect.

November 29, 2004 @ 8:05 pm | Comment

Fiona: jeez; when they distribute the wealth, they get called Marxists and everybody starves; when they don’t distribute the wealth, they get called capitalists and half the people starve. They can’t win!

It’s nice to hear that Beijing will be getting a new airport. I think it was Douglas Adams who observed that there’s no language on Earth that has the phrase “as beautiful as an airport” – but even so, there’s a noticeable difference between the fairly-tolerable (e.g. Heathrow) and the truly dire (e.g. Beijing).
Between the sparkly new airport, the greenified Airport Expressway, the glinty new National Theatre, and the complete and utter lack of any dissent, Beijing is really going to wow ‘em in ’08.

November 29, 2004 @ 8:53 pm | Comment

(Oh, d’oh. I just realized that Fiona was quoting Richard. I’ll just show myself to the door, then.)

November 29, 2004 @ 8:54 pm | Comment

Beijing’s current airport a shabbiest in the world? When did you visit the airport last time?

November 30, 2004 @ 2:34 am | Comment

in keeping with the current moderation-in-all-development line, the tallest building in the world, scheduled for guangzhou had been scaled back to a more reasonable 420-something meters, instead of the 600m it was supposed to be. Doesn’t mean that it won’t get built in Shanghai though.

November 30, 2004 @ 3:06 am | Comment

I agree with R&C. Beijing airport has improved a lot recently. Of course it’s not Heathrow, but it is cleaner, nicer, more modern, more efficient that one or 2 years ago. I have to give props to the staff as well, i found them friendlier then before, and i even got a smile from the custom officer, shocking ;D!
I think Beijing airport meets all the standards for an international airport, actually! Even the taxi line outside is fast and efficient now (not always the case in… say, Paris Roissy Charles De Gaulle International airport).

Another thing: ” I just wish they’d announce they were launching the world’s most ambitious distribute-the-wealth project.”
What government has ever launch such a project anyway? I mean, the social situation in most of China is really bad, I agree with that, but there are huge social gaps in America and Europe as well.
I don’t think it is fair to demand that China achieves policies for problems that our own national governments can’t manage to fix either.

November 30, 2004 @ 3:41 am | Comment

What gov’t. has ever launched such a project? Come on…really….that hasn’t happened in America. I know I’ve been in China for almost three years but I think we still Welfare, Social Services, Medicare, Rescue Missions, hospitals will treat the poor (I know..I know…but you can get treated. I know, I was a one of the poor once). Just to name a few gov’t. orgs. not to mention that there are a lot foundations and other non-profits that help out. I don’t see much of that going here.

November 30, 2004 @ 4:12 am | Comment

How long has it taken for these policies and social plans(Medicare, eg.) to be effectively implemented? Quite sometime, right? If I recall my History classes well enough, America didn’t come to existence with a social system, neither did the UK or France and so on. National governments have always regarded economic development as a priority compared with social welfare.
A social security system is a necessity but it takes time to set up and to implement.
China has a population of 1,3 billion and has just started its economic reforms (compared to the West, that is)… social welfare is bound to take time and to be flawed when it happens, I think.
I am afraid there are more huge buildings to come before that.

November 30, 2004 @ 4:45 am | Comment

Another thing: ” I just wish they’d announce they were launching the
world’s most ambitious distribute-the-wealth project.”
What government has ever launch such a project anyway?

Ever hear of the United States and its graduated income tax? And the estate tax? (Yes, there is a good reason for the estate tax.) These are pure and simple distribute-the-wealth devices used by many developed countries.

November 30, 2004 @ 5:51 am | Comment

I shouldn’t have said shabbiest in the world — just one of the shabbiest airports of a great capital city. It’s been nearly a year since I was there, and they were improving it.

November 30, 2004 @ 5:58 am | Comment

How an airport could be bigger than Heathrow, I don’t know. That place is bigger than many cities I have been to! Looking out the window from the terminals, it’s nothing but tarmac and planes to the horizon, almost freaky. :)

November 30, 2004 @ 8:23 am | Comment

you slanty eyed basard

April 21, 2005 @ 2:49 am | Comment

can we have some pictures???????

January 30, 2006 @ 8:20 pm | Comment

i think the airport is a great idea. i think it would be nice to have an airport that is so much busier and bigger than everywhere else so that all the other airports would stop proclaiming “we are the biggest airport in the world”, or”we are the busiest airport in the world. it does my head in

July 21, 2006 @ 2:45 pm | Comment

Where the hell does logan airport in Boston fit into all of this

July 31, 2006 @ 9:43 am | Comment

I see the current Skytrax annual survey reveals that the Hong Kong airport and Cathay Pacific airline (Hong Kong based) are rated #1 airport and airline, respectively, in the world. Congrats. The mainland Chinese airlines and airports have made major gains in rising to world standards in the last few years. They have come from the equivalent of a low class urban bus station to world class airport standards in the last ten years in my experience and opinion.

August 10, 2006 @ 10:31 pm | Comment

why don’t show some of snap so that ppl can see those being to constructe..
with best regards,
Prashant Pandit

August 11, 2006 @ 1:31 pm | Comment

sweet deals, how many kilos is your airport???

October 28, 2006 @ 2:49 pm | Comment

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