Opinions - China is the future
Story date: Thursday, October 28, 2004
Let China sleep, for when she awakes she shall
shake the whole world.
If you can't read these words,
better start brushing up. A profound shift has begun,
the kind that occurs once every few lifetimes. Don't be left behind. On Oct.
23, 2004, these
were the ominous words emblazoned on the cover of The Globe and Mail. Between
this headline were Chinese characters, ones the vast
majority of Canadian university students would not understand. None of this
concerned me until the evidence began to mount. October's cover of Fortune
magazine was titled "Inside The New China--The
companies, consumers and innovators shaping the World's Hottest Economy."
"China is the future" a respected university professor told me--and
now an entire weekend edition of Canada's national newspaper was dedicated to
China's growth, economy and people. The final exam was approaching; it was time
to pay attention.
With a population of 1.3 billion China's sheer potential is no mystery. A
country in the past oppressed by the shackles of communist regimes is now being
transformed. A growth is about in China, and none of us should miss out. China's economy has grown by 10 percent every
year for the past two decades. While suffering from the residual effects of the
pathology of communism and large-ly state-owned
enterprises, China will potentially emerge as the world's
next superpower or at a minimum break the current monopolistic ranks.
The facts on China continue to pile up. China is the largest agricultural producer in
the world, feeding approximately 22 percent of the world population. It has
over 100 cities with a million people, India has 18, Japan, 12, The United States 9. Its population
base is beginning to be adequately harnessed and the progress on the horizon
will prove to be unprecedented.
China's adoption of Western capitalism however
is not a panacea. According to the World Bank over 46.76 per cent of China's population live in incomes below the
international poverty line of $2 U.S. per day. Moreover, China's public expenditures on health and
education are abysmally low, sitting at around 2.2 per cent and 2 per cent
respectively. In addition, addressing China's human right record will be of
important concern for them on the world stage. According to Amnesty
International 63.4 per cent of all known executions last year occurred in China. As any growing country does, China has some wrinkles to iron out
particularly ones that will adversely affect them in the court of world
At first glance China's GDP of 4.6 trillion seems impressive.
However, China's GDP per capita tells a much truer
story--that work must be done to truly harness its
population resources. Sitting at only $3,600 U.S. per capita compared to Canada's $25,000 U.S. per capita, China's economy, at least at the moment, lacks
some form of economic efficiency.
All the concessions above however are misleading in and of themselves.
Capitalism in China is only 10 years old and needs a chance
to fully mature. No other nation has broken away from communism and grown at
this speed, and our predications are shrouded with uncertainty--we have no
precedent to go from. Perhaps what is most impressive is even New York based financial giant Goldman Sachs has
projected China's economy to surpass America's by the year 2039. Militarily, China's prowess is indisputable. China is second only to our southern neighbor
in military expenditures and actually ahead of them in official military
personnel. China is rising.
China's future should be persuasive. I was
previously blissfully unaware of this superpower in the making--dismissing it
as a communist titanic, egregious human rights violator and unfortunately lost
country. My views have markedly changed. If China is the future there needs to be a plan
in the present for us to become a part of it. Having America as our economic best friend is
invaluable but having more friends never hurt.