(Archive - Week of October 1, 2005)

How long will it be before China overtakes the United States?

Noah was here as a United States Marine in 1945

In 1945, my First Marine Division was on Okinawa after successfully taking the island from the Japanese military. In Aug., the Japanese government surrendered, and my division was sent to North China for the purpose of accepting the surrender of the Japanese who had occupied China for several years.

We did the job that China President Chiang Kai-shek troops were not able to do because the Japanese had pushed them to the southern part of China. It required weeks before they were able to arrive in North China.

We gathered up all the Japanese, military, and civilians and sent them back to their homeland in Japan. China was not a communist nation at the time and the Japanese occupation had starved hundreds of thousands to death, perhaps millions. After China became a communist nation in 1949, it became better for the people.

China is still a communist nation, but the people are living high on the hog. They don't have freedom, as we know it, but they are happy with high paying jobs, great medical care, good schools, homes to live in, and all the better things of life.

Chinese Rickshaw

We don't have to be too smart to realize that China will overtake our economy within a few short years. Look at what you buy and most of it is China made. The Chinese are very intelligent, willing to work, and the communist Chinese government has a plan to be the only super-power.

Dynasty

From at least 1766BC to this century, China was ruled by dynasties. A dynasty is a ruling family that passes control from one generation to the next. One dynasty lasted more than 800 years, while another lasted only fifteen years. The Chinese people supported their rulers because of what they called the Mandate of Heaven. The ancient Chinese believed their ancestors in heaven had chosen their leaders. The people would rebel against a weak leader because they believed he had lost the Mandate of Heaven.

The Shang was the first dynasty to leave written records. The Shang rulers expanded the borders of their kingdom to include all of the land between Mongolia and the Pacific Ocean. The Shang practiced human sacrifice. If a king died, many of his slaves would join him in the grave. Some were beheaded first, others were buried alive. The Shang also developed a lunar calendar consisting of twelve months of 30 days each. When a Shang king died, his next oldest brother replaced him. When there were no brothers, the oldest maternal nephew became king.

The Chou were nomads who lived west of the Shang. They overthrew the Shang and ruled China from 1122BC to 253BC. The Chou learned how to extract iron from rocks and they used the metal to create powerful weapons.

The Chou developed a feudal system in China. The rulers appointed nobles to divide land into smaller units for families. The families were loyal to the nobles and the nobles were loyal to the Chou rulers. The Chou rulers taxed their subjects, but they used the money well. They built huge walls around their cities to defend them from nomadic warriors. They also built roads, irrigation systems, and dams.

The Chou dynasty ended slowly as nobles became more powerful. The period that followed became known as the Age of Warring States. It was during this period that a great teacher named Confucius tried to develop good government. Eventually, the Ch'in state managed to unify China by 221BC. A group known as the Legalists influenced the Ch'in Dynasty. The Ch'in rulers clearly explained and strictly enforced laws. They standardized weights and measures and carried out irrigation projects. They also gave peasant farmers the land they lived on. The West first learned of China during the Chi'in dynasty. It is from Ch'in that we get the word China.

China grew into a powerful empire during the Han Dynasty, between 202BC and AD220. Scholars trained in the teachings of Confucius ran the government with great skill. During the Han Dynasty, the Chinese invented paper, writers recorded the history of their land, and the Chinese first learned of Buddhism.

The last Chinese dynasty to rule came from Manchuria, in northeast China. The Manchus were unable to stop other nations from interfering with China. The British defeated China in the Opium Wars. They seized Hong Kong, but more importantly, the British forced the government to allow them to sell a dangerous drug called opium to the Chinese people. Japan seized the island of Formosa, which later became known as Taiwan. By the turn of the century, foreigners had overrun China. Parts of China were ruled by the British, French, American, German, Russian, and Japanese forces. The Chinese people believed that the Manchus had lost the Mandate of Heaven. They began to support a group known as the Nationalists, who pledged to free China from foreign rule. The Nationalists had driven out the last of the Manchu rulers, a six-year-old boy, by 1911.

In late 1978 the Chinese leadership began moving the economy from a sluggish, inefficient, Soviet-style centrally planned economy to a more market-oriented system. Whereas the system operates within a political framework of strict Communist control, the economic influence of non-state organizations and individual citizens has been steadily increasing. The authorities switched to a system of household and village responsibility in agriculture in place of the old collectivization, increased the authority of local officials and plant managers in industry, permitted a wide variety of small-scale enterprises in services and light manufacturing, and opened the economy to increased foreign trade and investment.

The result has been a quadrupling of GDP since 1978. Measured on a purchasing power parity (PPP) basis, China in 2004 stood as the second-largest economy in the world after the US, although in per capita terms the country is still poor. Agriculture and industry have posted major gains especially in coastal areas near Hong Kong and opposite Taiwan and in Shanghai, where foreign investment has helped spur output of both domestic and export goods. The leadership, however, often has experienced - as a result of its hybrid system - the worst results of socialism (bureaucracy and lassitude) and of capitalism (growing income disparities and rising unemployment).

China thus has periodically backtracked, retightening central controls at intervals. The government has struggled to (a) sustain adequate jobs growth for tens of millions of workers laid off from state-owned enterprises, migrants, and new entrants to the work force; (b) reduce corruption and other economic crimes; and (c) keep afloat the large state-owned enterprises, many of which had been shielded from competition by subsidies and had been losing the ability to pay full wages and pensions. From 100 to 150 million surplus rural workers are adrift between the villages and the cities, many subsisting through part-time, low-paying jobs.

Popular resistance, changes in central policy, and loss of authority by rural cadres have weakened China's population control program, which is essential to maintaining long-term growth in living standards. At the same time, one demographic consequence of the "one child" policy is that China is now one of the most rapidly aging countries in the world. Another long-term threat to growth is the deterioration in the environment - notably air pollution, soil erosion, and the steady fall of the water table especially in the north.

China continues to lose arable land because of erosion and economic development. As part of its effort to gradually slow the rapid economic growth seen in 2004, Beijing says it will reduce somewhat its spending on infrastructure in 2005, while continuing to focus on poverty relief and through rural tax reform. Accession to the World Trade Organization helps strengthen its ability to maintain strong growth rates but at the same time puts additional pressure on the hybrid system of strong political controls and growing market influences.

China has benefited from a huge expansion in computer Internet use, with 94 million users at the end of 2004. Foreign investment remains a strong element in China's remarkable economic growth. Shortages of electric power and raw materials may affect industrial output in 2005. More power generating capacity is scheduled to come on line in 2006. In its rivalry with India as an economic power,

China has a lead in the absorption of technology, the rising prominence in world trade, and the alleviation of poverty; India has one important advantage in its relative mastery of the English language, but the number of competent Chinese English-speakers is growing rapidly.

 

Noah@SemperFidelisNoah.com

 

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