So what do we think of China?

Propping up the North Korean regime, notable as the world’s worst dictatorship?
Propping up the genocide in Darfur?
The human rights violations in Tibet?
Taiwan?

China is not “aggressive”… how?

20 years ago everyone said we would be owned by Japan. Now China is the big menace, but countries can’t just develop linearly for decades. As China gets richer, wages are going to go up, and product costs will, too. A rich China is not a threat to the US.

I think that’s about right. The numbers I hear are about 20/80 for the ratio of urban to rural.

Not far from the truth. Chinese peasants who live in rural areas have to get permission from the government to move to the cities. Permission is not easy to come by.

Cite this!

The Chinese government is bad. And bad in a deep institutional way not just bad in the sense that the current guy on top should be replaced.

But the Chinese government is smart. They make deals with foreign corporations. The corporations stay happy because they’re making profits. Foreign governments and foreign media are happy as long as their corporations are happy. The good side of China is emphasized and the bad side is minimized. So the foreign public doesn’t worry.

Where to start? I’ve got a 20+ year experience of being on the ground in China. When I first came here, I thought there was no way the country would modernize, not that the modernization would be too fast and too unrestrained.

First, China today is not the China of Tian’anmen or Mao. Since Tian’an men, the economy has doubled more than twice. All the old social “work unit”, collectives, neighborhood watches, etc are either museum relics or close to it.

Second, this is not a communist economy. The State sector and state owned enterprise continues to shrink as a proportion of the economy. IIRC it’s well below 20%. This is a wild wild west no holds barred capilitalist economy with little government oversight. Pet food and toothpaste scandals are not some communist conspiracy, but rather unrestrained capitalism that wasn’t caught.

Third, for the first time in Chinese history, both the peasants and workers have more or less unrestrained movement. Also for the first time in Chinese history, the impoverished countryside is seeing wealth creation on the back of migrant labor.

Fourth, there are no communist believers. There is a legacy communist government framework in place that is slowly changing with economic growth. The faustian bargain is don’t challenge the ruling party’s right to rule, and the ruling party will largely allow you to get rich.

For the future, I think China will continue to improve at a pretty good pace. One can argue whether it is fast enough or far enough or in the right direction, but overall it’s good positive improvement.

The one thing people should be worried about is massive holdings of cash and USD at the same time that the US has massive consumer and government debt. Look for more Lenovo/IBM style deals. Don’t be surprised if a Chinese company buys Ford. And it will be different from the Japan experience because the Chinese are not buying inflated assets at the top of the market. Rather buying at least at a decent price, and then leveraging synergies with cheap labor in China. More hollowing out of the US economy. I don’t see it as evil or a conspiracy, but rather a country that has saved money buying up the assets of a country that has done the opposite.

I dunno China Guy: you’re not the only person I know with lots of China experience, and from what a lot of them say, you’re overselling the hype, a lot of which the Chinese make in order to encourage businesses to invest in China, only to find a system of deep and nearly incoherent corruption, a non-innovative tech sector of mostly stolen ideas and technology, and an academia literally falling all over itself with fraud and plagiarism. Who to believe?

China Guy: I completely agree that China is communist in name only; it’s a totally capitalist nation now. But I’ve read reports that local uprisings and riots for whatever reason have increased over the years, hundreds or even thousands throughout the country. True, usually against some action by the local authorities, but I know that in the old imperial days, the court would take increasing numbers of uprisings as a sign from heaven that a dynasty change was in the works. Could the main government be fearing this, and could these local uprisings eventually grow into a more unified national disgruntlement?

china is a big country and one can find ancedotal evidence to ‘prove’ almost anything here.

foreign business investing in china have often bought the hype and checked their brains at the border. caveat emptor. I work for a huge MNC and my clients are huge MNC’s, and almost all of them are profitable. foreign companies learned how to make money in China in the past decade. that said, it is a very competitive market.WTO enforced opening has also removed many of the 50% ownership requirements that was by far the biggest business challenge.

I personally have never gone down the bribe route. it exists, but I think greatly exaggerated by middle men so they can get a cut from gullible westerners. certainly i’ve lost big deals where corruption is probably the most logical reason why. But I heard that can happen in new jersey too :slight_smile:

The problem is that China is a country with a capitalist economy and a communist government. The politicians don’t believe in capitalism. They look upon it like the Saudi government looks upon oil - as a resource to be used to further its own unrelated programs. At some point here’s going to be a confrontation when the capitalists decide they no longer want to work for the communists.

How limited are those prospects?

>>hijack<< Whatever happened to that guy that stood in front of the tank?

I think you are correct-but nobody in the non-working ruling elite here 9like the Bushes or Kenndy family) knows (or cares) about this. They live fat and happy on non-taxed municipal bonds, so it is nothing to them that there are no more industrial jobs left in the USA. When the Chinese own FORD and GM, they will produce EVERYTHING in China-and we will work in McDonalds for $4.00/hour.

I believe he was taken into custody and never seen again.

Yes. There was a fascinating PBS documentary on that guy not too long ago. It actually followed the life histories of many of the folks who participated in the protests, but the “hook” of the show was The Tank Man. Most of the Chinese who were interviewed speculated that he had been killed (IIRC), but no one knew for sure. All we know is 1) we don’t know who the guy was, and 2) we don’t know what happened to him.

We were just in Tiananmen Square a couple of weeks ago. The police there are very watchful. I like the way the uniformed ones will stand at ramrod attention and use their eyes to scan the crowd methodically. With their head looking straight forward, their eyes start from the left and move steadily all the way to the right. Then back to the left and steadily all the way to the right. Etc. You can always spot the plainclothes cops, too. I know it’s a bit twisted, but whenever I’m in Beijing and go to Tiananmen Square, I always look around to see if I can see a protest being pounced on. I hear they swoop down on protesters swiftly and haul them away, a lot of them Falungong. No one ever tries to protest while I’m there. Would make a good story.

I for one welcome our new . . .

Oh, fuck it.

Cite?

A situation the current generation of Chinese leaders inherited from their predecessors. “Propping up” NK merely means preserving the status quo – always the safest course when the outcome of any change is unpredictable. If Kim Jong Il started gearing up to invade SK, he would find China’s support has very definite limits.

On China’s part, not an instance of “aggression” but of cynical accommodation. They have no territorial ambitions in Sudan, they just need oil.

A state’s oppression of ethnic minorities within its own internationally recognized borders is universally condemned but never classed as “aggression.”

That is the one point of contention that could conceivably lead to war. Maybe even a war involving the U.S., though I doubt it; neither country can afford to lose the other as a trade partner.

China does not have a communist ruling class any more. None of them have any ideological commitment to communism, all those that once did are now dead. Of course that doesn’t mean they have an ideological commitment to capitalism either. But I don’t think you’ll find any ruling class in any country that as a whole has an ideological commitment to capitalism. You think the ruling class of France believes in “capitalism”?

The Chinese government doesn’t “believe” in capitalism, they believe in making money and preventing uprisings that threaten their ability to make money. If reforms that encourage capitalism can accomplish this, they will continue with those reforms. In this they are no different than any other country.

In 2001, Gordon Chang wrote a book predicting the Chinese system would be overthrown no later than 2006. Here’s a review:

Obviously Chang got the time wrong, but was he entirely wrong?