Chao Deng’s piece in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal chronicled the failure of People’s Republic of China rampant infrastructure spending to stimulate economic activity.
China bolstered economic growth for decades by pouring trillions of dollars into roads, factories, railroads and more, and doubled down to protect the economy from the global financial crisis of the last decade.
Deng went to lengths to point out that, for all those trillions, businesses did not appear, factories remain unused, roads and railroads are only lightly traveled, and even the high rise apartment buildings remain largely empty.
He—and the PRC government—missed the root cause of the fruitlessness of that spending.
Build it and they will come only works in a free market economy where no one needs government permission to engage in economic (or any other) activity.