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Saturday, February 7, 2009

China in 2020 Breaking Apart

I was at a Borders today and there was a book about future trends, and one of the predictions in the book was China would fall apart by 2020. I have heard the same thing before, including one time by Peter Drucker.

My opinion on why this is wrong:

1. China's governments since the 1920's have been pushing Mandarin to be used nationwide, and it now actually is. Before the 1911 revolution it was a regional tongue used around Beijing, and now it is a true national tongue, part of an effort that has been continued to increase nationalism in China.

2. China has been building an infrastructure to enable movement across China. From a railroad to Tibet to highways across China, there has been a huge increase in the ability for people to travel within China. Look at how many people traveled during the Chinese New Year Holiday within China.

3. China is building a blue water navy. The recent deployment of ships to off Somalia is one example of the increase in capabilities, and China is slowly building up it's naval capabilities including aircraft carriers. Recently they built a training facility for aircraft pilots and have bought a couple of air craft carriers. One from Australia (studied then junked) and three from Russian (one is an amusement park), other has been made part of the Chinese Navy. China has also ordered two air craft carriers to be delivered by 2015 from Chinese yards.

4. Do not underestimate the amount of nationalism in China.

5. The leadership of China is also very aware of Chinese history.

Quote by the author of the study, George Friedman at Stratfor.Com:

There are many who predict that China is the next challenger to the United States, not Russia. I don’t agree with that view for three reasons. First, when you look at a map of China closely, you see that it is really a very isolated country physically. With Siberia in the north, the Himalayas and jungles to the south, and most of China’s population in the eastern part of the country, the Chinese aren’t going to easily expand. Second, China has not been a major naval power for centuries, and building a navy requires a long time not only to build ships but to create well-trained and experienced sailors.

Third, there is a deeper reason for not worrying about China. China is inherently unstable. Whenever it opens its borders to the outside world, the coastal region becomes prosperous, but the vast majority of Chinese in the interior remain impoverished. This leads to tension, conflict, and instability. It also leads to economic decisions made for political reasons, resulting in inefficiency and corruption. This is not the first time that China has opened itself to foreign trade, and it will not be the last time that it becomes unstable as a result. Nor will it be the last time that a figure like Mao emerges to close the country off from the outside, equalize the wealth—or poverty—and begin the cycle anew. There are some who believe that the trends of the last thirty years will continue indefinitely. I believe the Chinese cycle will move to its next and inevitable phase in the coming decade. Far from being a challenger, China is a country the United States will be trying to bolster and hold together as a counterweight to the Russians. Current Chinese economic dynamism does not translate into long-term success.

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