China Number One Already?

by metatron 13 Replies latest jw friends

  • fulltimestudent


    "Racing" toward economic domination? Really? We heard the same about Japan 30 years ago.

    The difference between China and Japan is that the post WW2 Japanese state is the creation of the United States. The ruling party of Japan for most of the post war years has been the Liberal Democratic party formed after American occupation. It was built and organised and supported and financed to be a bulwark against expansive communism. And it faithfully supported the US through all its years in power.

    At the time that it seemed that Japanese economic power may threaten its American hegemon, somehow, in some way, Japanese economic power suffered an eclipse. We will never know what could've happened if Japan had indeed 'raced ahead.'

    And before that we heard the USSR was going to take over the world. Same fears, different decades.

    Was the fear of Soviet domination an economic fear or a political fear? I suggest that the American elite were really scared by what they saw the Russians do in the closing stages of WW2. If not in Soviet's final drive on Germany, then certainly by the lightning war on Japanese occupied N.E. Asia, when an Army of 500,000 scorched across Manchuria in less than a fortnight.

    But the USSR was still a socialist state and socialist states are not efficient. Why? Because too many humans are essentially lazy and will look for any chance to dodge work - and the bigger the work unit, the more opportunities there are to dodge work.

    American propaganda that the USSR was bent on World domination was just that - propaganda! Doesn't matter if Stalin believed it himself - it was just US propaganda of the 'reds under the beds" type.

    This article in TIME points out that China is good at manufacturing but not at managing business and not at breakthrough creativity that is needed to transform a nation into an economic superpower. The article points out that China as a whole is about 50 years behind the USA in terms of knowing how to run large businesses and developing effective research and development.

    Re-assuring isn't it? But not neccessarily true. The Chinese are out there learning how to do things. And more, there is a 2000 y.o. continuous tradition of international trade in their DNA. Without the Chinese even trying, the Chinese tea-trade nearly sent England broke in the early 19th C.

    Let me quote from a book by a very bright woman* whose work, "The Last Stand of Chinese Conservatism-The Tung Chih Restoration 1862-1874," I often access for the insights she offers into the pre-modern Chinese state. In my 1966 edition (Atheneum) she writes (p.150),

    " ... "pre-modern" technology had been developed to a remarkable degree. ... Nineteenth century observers noted, as had the Jesuits mbefore them, that the Chinese 'work mines, amalgamate metals, and work them in all sorts of ways - work them, in some instances, as the foremost nation of Europe cannot."

    and, as an example of overtaking Europeans in their (the Europeans) in their own game, Wright observes (p. 179) that Chinese merchants of that era, were:

    " ... shrewd and able businessmen, quick to learn and readily able to compete with foreigners for the profits of foreign trade."

    Believe what you will about the Chinese, but I suggest you make a big mistake if you underrate them.

    The future belongs to the innovators, and the USA has plenty of those and continues to attract them.,9171,2156209,00.html

    I would not underrate the USA either, the USA certainly has been "innovative." And, I want to make clear that I do not thnk that 'China" will overtake the 'USA' anytime in the next 10-15 years. But innovation is a human quality, not limited to one nation. Already Chinese names (often working in American research centres) are starting to appear on scientific papers.

    However, being pragmatic, why would the Chinese want to squash any other nation out of existence, Their policies, I suggest, are win-win. That way you may come back and buy something else from them.

    * Mary Clabaugh Wright (born Mary Oliver Clabaugh; Chinese name 芮瑪麗 Ruì Mǎlì; September 25, 1917 – June 18, 1970) was an American sinologist and historian who specialized in the study of the Chinese Revolution of 1911. She was the first woman to gain tenure in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Yale University, and subsequently the first woman to be appointed a full professor in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Yale.

  • Gopher

    Hi Fulltimestudent. Interesting takes, a lot to discuss.

    As far as the difference between China and Japan, it is true that the American plan to help rebuild the decimated nations of World War II led to outstanding economic recovery, especially in the cases of Germany and Japan. However when Japan started to challenge and directly compete with America they incorporated ideas that were uniquely Japanese to try to beat America at its own game. And for a while they succeeded. But as we both know, they never became the dominant world economic power.

    You make an excellent point that the Americans' fear of the USSR turned out to be overblown and was largely the result of propaganda. Americans noticed when the USSR tried to beat America and the world militarily and culturally (example - how they trained their Olympic athletes to be the best in many events, and even used Communist gymnastics and figure-skating judges to make sure their athletes would get the benefit of any doubts). I think that some of the same thing is happening in the American fear of a rising China now -- it's largely the result of propaganda fed by media and politicians.

    You say China is out there learning how to do things. Japan was too, back in the day. The American joke "the Japanese take pictures of everything here before they take it over" was based on a real fear.

    I still don't see the Chinese as innovators and creators. It's just not currently in their culture. If they don't turn that around, they will suffer the fate of Japan and fall back. This economic miracle they've had over the last few years with double-digit growth in their economy is just not sustainable. Their era of cheap labor is over. Multi-national corporations now seek cheaper labor in places like India and Cambodia. Now the Chinese must begin to have a culture of innovation and creation, otherwise they'll become merely a consumer society. As the Time article points out, the standard of living is rising in China and their people are largely choosing foreign brand names and imported products over the *stuff* made in their home country.

  • metatron

    There are a great many points made here, I'll try to answer a few.

    Comparing China to the Soviets and Japan is fair but misses some critical points. The Russians have never, even today, gotten past their problems with social decay, corruption and poor quality. Even Algeria, India and Venezuela have all complained about crappy weapons they've been sold (Algeria demanded their money back for MIG-29's).

    Japan has quality but is in the shadow of the US military. They fell into stagnation because their corrupt banks couldn't be shut down or reformed (sound familiar?)

    The Wall Street Journal will be forced to eat their words about China being a 'paper tiger' on innovation as trends there are already contradicting this idea. They are investing heavily in R&D and starting to produce results in bioengineering and space faring. And they are Number One in GDP growth, hands down.

    Meanwhile, let's look at the other side of the coin: Why should Anglo-America stay Number 1 much longer?

    China is "corrupt"? They execute business leaders for fraud while 'banksters' aren't even prosecuted here.

    The US is destroying its friendly relationships across the globe with its arrogance about NSA spying. Do you see Congress in any hurry to do anything about that?

    Do you see the US Congress in any hurry to accomplish ANYTHING USEFUL AT ALL, IN ANY FIELD? While US infrastructure decays, the government is in no hurry to do anything. Not like China.....

    China is building roadways, mines and (yes) entire cities in Africa - and they don't care about politics or hypocritical objections about human rights.

    I keep reading oped pieces in the mass media in which pundits put China down while their own political and business institutions stagnate or rot. Meanwhile, China keeps growing rapidly....

    Hey, they invented gunpowder, rockets, paper money and printing long ago!


  • metatron

    One more thing...

    China is steadily trimming away a major means by which the US has maintained its Number 1 status: reserve currency and credit ratings.

    They are setting up exchanges to price commodities in yuan, not the dominant dollar. They are stockpiling gold massively. They are setting up credit rating agencies that are independent of the US (how do you think the world was suckered into buying crappy securities based on US real estate?)

    Right now, the US Navy is very worried about a bit of innovation called the "DF-21D" carrier killer...


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