TIANJIN ECO-CITY, China -- Three years ago, this coastal area fit perfectly into the dictionary definition for "wasteland." Its soil was too salty to grow crops. It was polluted enough to scare away potential residents. Sometimes the few fishermen who lived here saw investors driving in, but they quickly turned around and left, leaving nothing behind except dust.
But then some people showed up to buy a piece of this land. It is about half the size of Manhattan. They restored the soil, cleaned up water pollution and began preparing the once-deserted place for a city that will host green businesses and some 350,000 residents by 2020.
This is Tianjin Eco-City, basically a wasteland-to-community experiment carried out by the Chinese and Singapore governments. The two nations are taking this effort seriously, pouring in capital and expertise, including a minister-level committee from Singapore, to ensure its success.