söndag, januari 03, 2010

China


I read in a newsletter from Kairos Future (19/11-09) about the rapid change of society in China from the late 70's til today.
This article talked about the de-collectivization of the agricultural sector, the opening of different world markets, foreign trade and the augmentation of migration and mobilitiy.

As some examples one can mention that;
- 25 million square meter of property were demolished in Shanghai during one decade and replaced with 4000 skyscrapers, twice the amount as New York! This according to this article.
- The Guangdong province was the reformed China's first area experimenting with market economy and there the population grew from 100 000 to 10 milions in only a few decades!
- According to this article the chinese live twice as long as fifty years ago.
- China and Europe had the same amount of inhabitants sixty years ago, today the Chinese are twice as many (I would say more than that).
- The number of people using the mobile phone in China is higher than the amount of inhabitants in Europe.
- In the year 2000 USA had seven times more internet users than China, today thare are more internet users in China than in USA.
- The same year - 2000 - the United States of America had more people with a university degree than China, today China has twice as many university graduates as USA.
- In 2009 China became the biggest car market in the world and China is predicted to become the largest economy in the world - measured after GNP - in 2020.

The article in Kairos Future, urged companies and financiers to take this into consideration when enlarging their businesses and trading with other countries.
Included in this was to learn about China as a country, its history, culture and language.

To me the most interesting aspects about this article is the fact that this transition has been possible because of - or thanks to - the dictatorship. Personally I prefer the term because of but market economists would probably say "thanks to" as they care less about human lives.
Why do I prefer "because of"?
For the simple reason that this huge transition has been made possible through the fact that people living in these areas - being transformed - sometimes very brutally have been removed from their homes and more or less transported to other parts of the country.
During the reign of Mao Zedong this policy was even more brutal and perverse, treating humans as his own playthings in order to augment his power.
Of course these kind of event has to a certain amount happened in democracies too when democracies haven't fully functioned as such more than on a official level (in Sweden and elsewhere).
In this case - as we are talking about a totalitarian regime - people don't have a choise, they are forced to leave if they want to avoid severe reprisals or being killed.

Some would say that a great number of people have prospered thanks to this development and this might be true but one have to ask oneself if the prosperity of a relatively few justifies the suffering of many?!
How can I say a "relatively few"?
I can't prove that there are a greater number of people who have suffered than have prospered in this process as I can't present any statistics (and as we know, with statistics you can prove almost everything, true ore false).
My general feeling - taking into consideration the reports from China - does however suppport a view of this kind.
We have to remember that China has the biggest population in the world and that it's more likely imagining that this process has favoured people living in the big cities rather than the peasants and rural population, constituting the majority of the Chinese population.
We also have to remember that only during the rule of Mao, 70 million people were killed!

The augmentation of inhabitants in the Guangdong province is of course a process causing a great deal of trouble and problems, not only bringing more wealth or prosperity.
It causes problems for the environment but also social and cultural problems.
Again, these two latter problems can - unfortunately - always be dealt with by the military in a dictatorship like China!

Becoming or being the biggest car market in the world, raises questions concerning the consequences for the environment. In the world today there are (according to some figures) around 1 billion cars and in 2025 some scientists have estimated the number of cars in the world to 2,4 billions!
When talking about environmental aspects in relation to the economical development in China, the Chinese leaders always points at Europe and USA saying that we can't stop the process in China by referring to environmental aspects as the West never have taking into account these very same environmental aspects. Not until, lets say, the last three decades.
This is true but this can't stop us from discussing this issue.
However in order to do so countries in the West have to present significant progress in their environmental work and the Copenhagen conference did not succeed in this case!

After Mao Zedong a more 'market liberale' development began and this is of course to some degree very positive if it could lead to better living conditions for those Chinese living in poverty.
A market economy is however not a solely blessing system even though the world is full of 'market economy-fundamentalists' crying out their 'gospel' to the world.
The market economy is an anti-intellecutal system and if the prosperity is going to be combined with a sustainable living, intellectuals, not politicians or business men (-women) have to lead the way in the future.
This means that we have to start looking at as many aspects of development as possible not only the rude parameter called 'economic growth'.
This is important for us in the West as well as for the Chinese, Indians or any other people in the world experiencing the 'blessings and curses' of economic growth.
This is of course not a new insight but unfortunately our political leaders lack the courage to lead this work ahead.
Still the multinational companies dictate the terms and political leaders are willing to follow as they see many short term profits both economically and politically.
This is the case with the Chinese leaders as well as the leaders of the so called 'free world'.

When it comes to education and university studies I think (again without being able to prove this) that Chinese university students and researchers/scientists are more willing to stay in China or - if they have the possibility to go abroad - to return to China after a séjour in another country.
I also believe that this is something that differs China from India, as 'brain-drain' is a great problem in India. Indians going abroad for studies or work tend to stay as they are better payed in Western countries than in their native country India.
In Sweden we have had a great number of very competent Indian engineers and this goes for many European countries and the USA.
China is a country under strong development but as with the industrial and post-industrial era in the West, this will lead to great environmental, social and economical problems, besides the positive effects.

0 commentaires: