China’s construction standards not up to par

Seismic safety a top concern for developing nation

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In China's mad scramble to develop, its cities are rising at an astonishing rate. That's the good news. The bad news is that they're already falling apart. China's rush toward Western-style development has not brought with it a commensurate culture of quality. Too often, the new structures that look so impressive from a moving car are breathtakingly slapdash up close. Beneath their glitzy veneers of granite, marble and tile, China's buildings are literally rotten at the core. Even important public works such as civic parks, freeways and bridges seem hurriedly thrown together, as if only to impress foreigners in distant postcard views. Rampant corruption among government officials isn't helping matters–at least one new highway bridge collapsed shortly after completion because inspectors had been paid to look the other way. Given China's brilliant history of innovation and craftsmanship, not to mention its almost limitless pool of labor, the toleration of such third-rate work a...