A thousand kilometres from the nearest coast, a towering glass wave rolls over the plains of Sichuan, the roof of what Chinese officials say will be the world’s largest standalone structure.
The 100-metre-high New Century Global Centre is a symbol of the spread of China’s boom, 500m long and 400m wide, with 1.7 million square metres of floor space, big enough to hold 20 Sydney Opera Houses, according to local authorities.
By comparison the Pentagon in Washington – still one of the world’s largest office buildings – is barely a third of the size with a mere 600,000 sq m of floor space.
The Global Centre is just a few kilometres from the US consulate where the police chief of Chongqing fled to seek asylum, triggering the fall of his patron Bo Xilai and exposing the biggest scandal to rock China’s Communist Party for years.
But it represents a different side of China, where lower costs and government subsidies are still fuelling double-digit growth in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province.