Visitors to Changsha, the provincial capital of Hunan province, see a burgeoning city in the making, with a fast-rising population of 6.5 million. The streets are jammed with traffic – including countless cars – and hundreds of high-rises shine at night.
There are tens of thousands of shops, cafes and restaurants lining both sides of every streets. Familiar foreign brands, including KFC, Carrefour, Wal-Mart and McDonald’s, are prominent. Even in secondary cities like Xiangtan, KFC shops are plentiful. Like many other parts of inland China, long considered laggards in China’s economic reforms, Hunan has finally become part of the country’s globalization.
Notwithstanding the somewhat pretentious prosperity shown by the cars, highrises and neon lights, the Hunanese people are anything but complacent about the great challenges they confront. Among the several dozen local people this writer interviewed, none was satisfied with the general situation in Hunan. In fact, all say that Hunan has fallen seriously behind.