The title of this weblog is borrowed from a book that has greatly impacted my approach to studying and observing China, and has led me to conclude that the future of America is becoming more deeply embedded in the future of Asia every day. That book was NY Times op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof's memoir about his experiences while working as NYT bureau chief in Beijing. According to Kristof, Napolean once said that "When China wakes, it will shake the world." Can you feel it?
According to several international news outlets, the Chinese government has decided to take severe measures to curb the internet addiction that has afflicted many of the countries younger citizens. Using shock therapy, the government hopes to discourage these internet users, who often spend every minute they are awake in internet cafes playing video games and chatting with their friends, from maintaining unhealthy levels of usage. I doubt that the government will find the international reaction to this controversial program to be very favorable, and it certainly won't do very much to bolster the countries image in the eyes of the world. Can anyone seriously consider China to be a civilized nation when they have such Draconian policies for dealing with excessive internet usage?
The Chinese government has sentenced a man convicted of defrauding several unsuspecting investors out of millions by selling them ants at a disgustingly inflated price. Wang Zhendong promised investors returns of up to 60% if they put their money into the fake ant-breeding program. Wang's scheme caused great distress to his victims, with one man committing suicide because of the despair he suffered after learning that he had squandered his savings on a false investment opportunity.
Human rights activists will likely strike out at the disturbing impudence used by Chinese officials when it comes to the liberal use of the death penalty for matters of economic corruption and fraud. Rent seeking and favor-trading dominate in local Chinese economies, and fraudulent scams are common, but it is difficult for a Western perspective to ever understand how death is a proportionate penalty for fraud. However, it is impossible for a Westerner to ever truly understand the pressures of governing a country of the size and complexity that characterizes modern China.
I suspect that a government truly of the people would never endorse such Draconian policies, but it is unclear to me whether a government "of" 1.4 Billion people could ever effectively manage the development the country has undergone in the post-modern era under the authoritarian Chinese Communist Party.
Chicago's Mayor Richard Daley announced on Thursday the creation of the Chicago China Development Corporation, a non-profit economic development agency under the administration of the the Mayor's office and charged with exposing the benefits of Chicago as a location for investment and US-based operations for Chinese companies. Contrived during a 2004 visit to the Chinese mainland, the group will bring much needed and deserved exposure to the Second City as it continues to expand its sphere of influence around the world. With expectations of hosting the Olympics in 2016, Chicago is anticipating a surge in direct investment.
In political terms, China and Chicago share many similar characteristics. Effectively, both have a political structure akin to a publicly-endorsed monarchy, with formal dissent all but silenced. A fair argument could be made that this a common-flaw shared by the two far-left political administrations. In my opinion, as long as a constructive and prosperous partnership can be established between the Chicago and China, political reform can wait...
After nearly twenty years of geo-spacial monopoly, the US GPS system, which so many people around the world have come to rely on when traveling to an unknown destination. The European Union has recently closed in on full operational capability of their real-time navigational system Galileo, and the Chinese took major steps toward implementing a third in the launch of a key satellite over the weekend in their Beidou Navigation System.
There exists fundamental differences between the US system and its EU contemporary which are as indicative of the fundamental differences in the guiding economic philosophies of the two continents. The GPS system that has been in operation under the Department of Defense since the 1970's has, since its declassification, been open for use at no cost to any company that can harness its vast capacities for use at the level of the individual consumer or corporate entity. Since that time the US has embraced GPS culture and all of our ground based commercial traffic is guided by the pulsing satellites that make up the GPS network. Galileo will take a different approach, instead charging its users a fee for usage with the value-added benefits not entirely clear as of yet, though to be fair, the system is hardly up and running.
The Beidou (Chinese name for the "Big Dipper" constellation) Navigation System is even further down the road than Magellan, and just as the US and EU networks are reflections of the fundamental economic differences that exist between the two Western civilizations, the Chinese strategy for its commercialization strategy is like all other economic policies in China: vague and highly speculative.
As the Chinese become wealthier and their country-sides are transformed into concrete jungles awash in semi-trucks and FedEx vans, their decision to enter the Global-Positioning market early and aggressively will likely prove to have been wise. If they choose, as I suspect they will, to follow the path of the free markets paved by their American competitor they will most likely outshine the Galileo network even if they are years behind in bringing the service to consumers.
Considering China is still a developing economy by official classification, it should be noted that they are making aggressive commercial, and not just militaristic advances in the space industry. If American policymakers, entrepreneurs and bankers heed the warnings that such an aggressive push by a growing competitor into an industry with limitless potential the US should have no problem competing with the Middle Kingdom anywhere in the known universe.