Thankfully Go West may soon finally go away. The long running and largely useless campaign to drive investment to the remoter western fringes of the country has been a disaster and it now seems that Beijing feels ready to (sort of) admit that, take a deep breath and move on. Go West was launched about five years ago to stimulate economics development. China claims that the policy has led to US$48 billion being invested in the region, but little of this has been FDI (at most US$3 billion). The vast majority has been central government funding for various projects. In general Go West was a leap too far for foreign investors and for most Chinese investors too.
Of course loyal government servants pushed the project. The main beneficiaries of Go West were probably the hotel and hospitality industries in places like Shanghai and Beijing that got to host the conferences promoting it all. A few people outside government circles got excited about Go West too. The Chambers of Commerce and the commercial consuls all wrote papers about it and those consultancies of the variety that produce free magazines naturally thought it was great – but then they would support pretty much any policy – the ‘Go jump in a Lake’ initiative or the ‘Take a Long Walk of a Short Pier’ policy, would see them urging readers not to ignore the booming market for short piers in China!