If there has been a major problem with the Chinese leadership, it has been its slowness to recognize that the old way of industrialization simply does not work with a population as vast as China’s. Western Europe, then later America and Japan were able to get away with industrialization because they had smaller populations and did not urbanize as quickly as China is now.
Not only does reliance on energy imports crimp China’s foreign policy in the near future, it is crimping the environment now. And the whole problem will only get worse.
This is the problem with the traditional view of industrialization and urbanization.
The tragedy for humanity and for China is that other development models are available. Using computers and virtual teams on service-related projects reduces the need for commutes and polluting transportation. Everyone will have to make some sacrifices in lifestyle, but the sacrifices are not that huge.
The trouble is that we are straddled with a bunch of old thinkers in leadership positions who can’t make the change to a new model fast enough. We are not in control of our own fate.