Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Walk About

The lovely, really smart, looks 20-years younger than she is, wife and I made our normal all-day walk about in Shenzhen this past Saturday. I enjoy these outings for many reasons but not the least of them is seeing how China has changed over the past dozen years or so.

China has lots going for it these days. However, I am not as rosy about China's future as many people are. Here is why:
  1. China has 1/6 th of the world's population but 1/2 of all the smokers live in China. When I am in China it sometimes it seems like my wife and I are the only people on the street not smoking. Since the population of China is fairly young I wonder what the effect upon the health care system and labor supply will be in 25 years when all of the 30 somethings are 50 somethings with lung cancer?
  2. The One-Child policy means that China has a rapidly aging population. Indeed, China's population will start to fall in the near future. While this good in many respects it means that the cost of labor in China is going to rise dramatically and soon. It also means that the stuff that is manufactured in China is going to become much more expensive. China will no longer be the ubiquitous source for cheap shoes or toys. What will that do to the economy of China?
  3. China has huge, modern looking cities that are fed by aging peasants who own tiny farms that are plowed with oxen. Most of the younger generation have moved to the cities for better paying jobs. China needs to allow the creation of large, efficient farms that use modern technology. It also needs to encourage at some of the next generation to stay on those modern farms. A nation cannot truly call it self a super power if it relies upon illiterate 70 year olds to grow its food. Who is going to feed all those factory workers as the farmers, many of whom are already elderly die?
  4. I could not be normally called an environmentalist. However, China has huge environmental problems which if not addressed are going to kill the nation. There are thousands probably tens of thousands of kilometers of rivers that are horribly polluted. Worse than anything anywhere in Western Europe or North America. China is literally polluting its drinking water to the point that not only can the water not drunk but KILLS crops that are watered with it. While less obvious than the foul air this is a horrific problem that China must address soon to avoid literally dying of thirst. What is China going to do about its water supply?
  5. China needs to deal with the endemic corruption that is part and parcel of the lower levels of government. That probably means that the party needs to allow people to openly criticize the party. In short, China needs to live up to the rights it constitutionally guarantees to its citizens and allow free speech. How can government corruption be fought if it is against the law to complain about the government?
  6. Indeed, the government in China needs to enforce its constitution at many levels. If it did many of the problems in China would become much more solvable. When will the government of China prosecute county and provincial officials who oppress religious and political groups which have a constitutional right to exist in China?
  7. China needs to harness the patriotism of its population in positive ways. True patriots want the best for their country and do not simply parrot the party line. It is time for the people of China to stand up and demand that their government change. When will the Chinese people learn that they must stand up for a better China?
Locals in Hong Kong probably know all of these things. It may even be patently obvious to everybody but me. But, it is what I have been thinking about this week

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger Who Observes China

1 comment:

chinasourcingpro said...

The US had horrendous problems with pollution - most nations do as they throw themselves fully into "modernization". Good point about the aging population and farming... hadn't thought about that issue.