Sunday, May 1, 2011

Ack! The Chinese are coming! The Chinese are coming!

Interesting article by Brent Arends at MarketWatch the other day.

The IMF has projected that, in terms of real purchasing power, China will overtake the US as the world’s largest economy in 2016, just five years from now. The US economy was three times as big as China’s only 10 years ago.

Mr. Arends seems to think people will be shocked.

What would be shocking is if the Philippines overtook Japan.

I think I was among the first Americans to drop the xenophobic view of China as a bad-boy country in 1970 when I engaged in a spirited debate with my wife about Mao Tse Tung, Communism and Chinese culture. America was still engaged at the time in Viet Nam, ostensibly to stop the “Red Tide” of communism from spreading throughout Asia.

My former wife is Chinese Singaporean, the daughter of a high government official in Singapore. Her father was a communist writer who fled from Singapore to “Red” China in the late 1940’s.

I was just a na├»ve American farm boy full of platitudes and biases. My wife had real life understanding of China. I was trying to argue with no knowledge. She won our “debate” hands down.

She helped me to understand that governments are not actually THE people, they just represent them and try to bind them together. China is an amazing amalgam of different ethnicities, languages and cultures. The US has nothing like it. The USSR was similar, and collapsed. China remains a unified whole.

The real question is whether or not China, as the fast growing big economic dog in the world, will see its role as having responsibility for the well-being of the many non-Chinese peoples of the world. The country’s success of late has been due to achieving a modicum of modern thinking and far-reaching engagement in worldwide economic affairs. As well as a determined, self-serving economic agenda. It is the discipline, sometimes imposed through harsh measures that westerners consider an abridgment of human rights, which has powered the country’s success and held it together.

China is at a crossroads. To adapt a worldly social conscience, or not.

The US has been the world’s social conscience for too long. Yet, as we see in Libya, other advanced countries can’t seem to muster the strength required to lead.

I would add that economic might is not a sports contest with nations standing as winners and losers. The people who live in those countries are the winners or losers depending on the economic and social values their leaders represent.

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