It won’t exactly make world headlines, but in the Chinese port city of Dalian there was another accident today in the city’s sprawling petrochemicals development zone. This time a fuel tank caught fire in an oil refinery belonging to state major PetroChina.
What’s amazing – and disconcerting for many living in Dalian – is that this is the FOURTH major safety alert in the petrochemicals complex in the last 12 months or so. No wonder the Weibo (Chinese Twitter) is hot with anger on the subject.
Certainly, it seems as if the Chinese media have been told not to dwell on these matters too heavily: the official Xinhua newswire reports today’sfire, but can’t find space to mention the three other incidents, lest people start to join the dots. On days like these, you wonder how much of the rest of China’s much-vaunted infrastructure, built pell-mell this last decade or so, is on the verge of falling to bits.
Perhaps there’s growth and money to be made repairing all this stuff, but as Michael Pettis, the bearish China economist writes in his China Financial Markets blog this week, the China investment binge just can’t go on forever.