China's Future Shock
Expensive mountain bike, Zhang Xiao-Guang might be a typical 28-year-old in practically any city. Until you sit down for a meal and hear him relate the kind of rags-to-riches tale you only hear in two places in the world anymore.
Soon, Zhang will join Beijing's brigade of suits, part of the parade of salary men chasing the double-digit growth in the capital. Ten years ago, though, this scared, wiry teen had more in common with a different demographic group: the enormous, 250-million strong migrant population. Meaning, he lived like any homeless person, only while working his way through university.
He hauled water by bucket to his single room in an enormous concrete housing bunker in Beijing. Unsanitary, unheated. "I was living like a migrant worker," he recalls. "There was no water, no shower, no toilet. I had to go outside. The worst was winter. It was freezing."
Zhang burned coal in his unventilated room, a practice banned by Beijing authorities both because of the human and environmental risk, but a law largely ignored and gladly broken by Zhang whenever he had the means to. Otherwise, he lingered in his university library, not so much to soak up knowledge as a few precious hours of warmth.
Zhang had already battled his way to Beijing, like millions more from China's vast hinterland. He had daringly also defied the government, rejecting a university posting in Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei Province, where he was raised.
Few from the farms in his hometown ever escaped, but Zhang had grander dreams. One view of Shijiazhuang, and he was set. "It was dirty, ugly," he recalls. "I wanted something different. I didn't know what exactly, since I was young. Freedom, I guess."
He earned that in Beijing, but at a price, sleeping on floors until he found a place at one of the many private business colleges springing up to serve ambitious youth like Zhang.
Even when he moved into his own room, there was little sleep. He worked nights at MacDonald's, earning under $1 an hour. Every buck eased the burden on his parents back home.
But what a difference a decade makes in the mainland. In 10 years, Zhang has moved from flipping burgers to management training. His salary at Siemens' Management Institute in Beijing, will be more than the state railway pays teachers like his parents in a full year. Such is the speed of change in China in less than a generation.
CHINA AND NORTH ASIA
global population of the North East Asia (China, Taiwan, Japan and the two Koreas ) attains 1,524 million in 2004. It would stabilize and reach about 1,542 million in 2030. The global GNI accounts for $7,565 Billion in 2004. We can expect about $28,000 Billion in 2030. Clearly, the future of China and North East Asia is bright. The region will be the main economic center in the world.
China has quadrupled its GDP since 1980. Thanks to foreign investments and a fast transfer of technology, this country has realized in twenty years that Japan and South korea have realized in 45 years. The Chinese GDP ($2,133 Billion in including Taiwan and Hong Kong) could attain $18,000 Billion in 2030.
Is the Chinese growth expected to going on? Clearly, we answer Yes. Thanks to its population, China represents a huge market and the economy can still enjoy a very high growth rate in the next future. Despite political and social uncertainties, we are confident because of the quality of the Chinese youth. 400 Million are aged between 20 and 39 (Only 110 million in Western Europe ) and constitute the main labor force. These people are well educated, enthusiastic about business entrepreneurship, eager to work as much as they can. They focus on ethics and values. They show a real openness to the world. The Chinese youth is better prepared than the European youth to the coming world. In our opinion, it is the most important asset of China.
China and the West
China will undoubtedly be one of the great dramas of the twenty-first century. China's extraordinary economic growth and active diplomacy are already transforming East Asia, and future decades will see even greater increases in Chinese power and influence. But exactly how this drama will play out is an open question. Will China overthrow the existing order or become a part of it? And what, if anything, can the United States do to maintain its position as China rises?
Some observers believe that the American era is coming to an end, as the Western-oriented world order is replaced by one increasingly dominated by the East. The historian Niall Ferguson has written that the bloody twentieth century witnessed "the descent of the West" and "a reorientation of the world" toward the East. Realists go on to note that as China gets more powerful and the United States' position erodes, two things are likely to happen: China will try to use its growing influence to reshape the rules and institutions of the international system to better serve its interests, and other states in the system -- especially the declining hegemon -- will start to see China as a growing security threat. The result of these developments, they predict, will be tension, distrust, and conflict, the typical features of a power transition. In this view, the drama of China's rise will feature an increasingly powerful China and a declining United States locked in an epic battle over the rules and leadership of the international system. And as the world's largest country emerges not from within but outside the established post-World War II international order, it is a drama that will end with the grand ascendance of China and the onset of an Asian-centered world order.