July 8, 2004

The Chinese Century?

I highly recommend this article, in the NYT Magazine, on the stunning growth of China's economy. (Sent by Frank. Thanks!)

To me, the big question is the extant to which the Chinese, and other developing nations, will adopt the "rule-sets" of the US and the Anglosphere. They will, inevitably, as incomes rise and the middle-class grows, become more democratic. BUT perhaps they will develop more along the lines of France or Germany and the EU? Or some similar elite-run pseudo-democracy. That would be the less-happy outcome for the world. To be blunt, we have the best culture of political freedom. We have what they need.

And the poisonous hatred evoked by the US and its traditions in much of the world, (and much of the US) is evidence of the power of what we have to teach. Elitists everywhere instinctively know who their enemy is. (One good thing about the Iraq campaign is that it has exposed their disguise of being "anti-fascist" for the pathetic sham it has always been. I'll add that to my list of reasons why the liberation of Iraq was a move of pure genius. I'm up to about 13.) One good sign is the growth of Christianity in China.

...Look, China is the most exciting place in the world right now to be a manufacturer,'' says Mark Wall, president of the greater China region for G.E. Plastics. His operation sells the plastic pellets used to make everything from DVD's to building materials. Within two years G.E. will sell $1 billion in advanced materials, including plastics, in China. Wall, who came to China from G.E. Plastics, Brazil, describes a country in love with manufacturing like no other, where engineers come in excited and readily work long days. Where university students clamor to get into engineering and applied sciences. Like many American manufacturing executives in China, Wall talks about working in China with the delight that young computer whizzes felt when they found cool in Silicon Valley. There's no going to a cocktail party and then trying to talk around the fact that you make things in factories. Wall says he feels at home. He loves it. G.E. has every plan to capitalize on the local zeal for manufacturing. It recently opened a giant industrial research center in Shanghai, and by next year will it employ 1,200 people in its Chinese labs. The company has also set up scholarship programs at leading Chinese technical universities. It will have no shortage of good candidates.

The government is pouring resources into creating the world's largest army of industrialists. China has 17 million university and advanced vocational students (up more than threefold in five years), the majority of whom are in science and engineering. China will produce 325,000 engineers this year. That's five times as many as in the U.S., where the number of engineering graduates has been declining since the early 1980's. It is hard to imagine Americans' enthusiasm for engineering sinking lower. Forty percent of all students who enter universities on the engineering track change their minds...

Posted by John Weidner at July 8, 2004 7:46 AM
Weblog by John Weidner