On my way back from a family event in Chicago on January 2nd, I was drawn to the magazine rack in a convenient store in O’Hara airport. Among the stacked magazines, the following cover stories caught my attention:
What’s Next: China (Newsweek)
Can the world survive China’s rush to emulate the American way of life?(Mother Jones)
The Newsweek article is particularly interesting, as it provides a balanced view on China (although some insecurity and hostility are still inevitable). Here are some startling statistics cited by Fareed Zakaria for what’s happened to China in 2007:
– China contributed more to global growth than the United States – the first time another country had done so since the 1930s.
– China became the world’s largest consumer in basic food, energy and industrial commodities
– China surpassed the United States to become the world’s leading emitter of CO2.
And, there are two more things that happened in China in 2007, which Zakaria didn’t quote but I think are phenomenal: 1) China had the biggest IPO (Alibaba’s) that beat Google’s; 2) Shanghai Stock Exchange exceeded New York for the first time in terms of volumes.
Zakaria believes China as a global power is no longer a forecast but a reality. This is a powerful statement, and it also sounds alarming. Think about it, for over half a century, no other country has shared the “superpower” title with the United States. No wonder someone in my writing class at Stanford said to me, “I hope China won’t come over and invade us.”
Unfortunately, there are a lot of fears about China, but not much understanding. I do believe that China is moving toward the right direction. Although it has strong momentum, the situation there is much more complicated than the statistics suggest. Using Zakaria’s own words, China “is unique as a world power, the first in modern history to be at once rich (in aggregate terms) and poor (in per capita terms).
But most importantly, I think China and the United States have a lot to learn from each other, and they can work together to benefit the world as a whole. I strongly endorse Michael Bloomberg’s article “A Race We Can All Win,” in which he wrote:
“Based on my 35 years of experience in the private sector, and six years running the nation’s largest city, I believe that China is not a threat to America, but an opportunity. An incredible opportunity. …. Just as a growing American economy is good for China, a growing Chinese economy is good for America. That means we have a stake in working together to solve common problems, rather than trying to bowbeat or intimidate the other into action.”
The real fear is the United States to slow down, not China to speed up. A competitive China should compete America to the top, not to the bottom. That means we cannot be complacent, and we cannot take for granted what we have!