Anton Goryunov writes from Beijing: I’m really getting fed up with hearing all sorts of ‘experts’ on China telling us that the 21st century would be ‘China’s century’ and that it is quickly turning into an economic superpower while beefing up its military arsenals. Some keen fans of China are even predicting that Mandarin would become the official language in many parts of the world by 2050, give or take ten years both ways.
The idea is that China has managed to flood the whole world with its cheap goods, while buying up assets here and there, supposedly in preparation for a global take-over. Lots of praise is showered on the way the Chinese communists have adapted themselves to the new realities of a limited market economy, having realised that if they continue to have the monopoly on power but allow free enterprise to develop, it would create a hybrid of communism and capitalism that would work well for them.
Supposedly by 2035 China would be producing double the US Gross Domestic Product, allowing it to spend at least three times more on defence than it spends now. (Nobody really knows, by the way, the size of China’s military budget at the moment, as half of it is cunningly hidden in civilian programmes.) There’s also talk that China has already established a foothold in many parts of the world, with large Chinese communities having settled in nicely, creating a sort of a fifth column in case things get exciting. (These communities in reality would be the last to support the communists in their adventures.)
In other words, the felling among academics and analysts and commentators is that China currently is a sleeping giant that is about to wake up and start kicking butt and dictating its terms to the rest of the world. And the funniest thing of all is that the Chinese communist leaders themselves have actually fallen for that scenario, believing that world domination would be their thing in a couple of decades or so.
Well, they are wrong, the academics, the experts and the Chinese communist leaders. China has about as much chance of becoming a superpower as Zimbabwe, because the so-called Chinese economic miracle exists mostly on paper, lovingly prepared by the statisticians on the ground who report to local communist bosses and add a zero or two here and there, to keep their jobs safe. Not to mention that by civilised standards the Chinese economy is closer to feudalism rather than to restricted capitalism, lacking any proper competition, having no social welfare or guaranteed workers’ rights and, more importantly, totally depending on slave labour.
The thing is that despite all that fancy talk about China’s economic miracle, about 70 per cent of its people don’t really live in luxury, to put it very mildly. And when you have, say, 600 or 700 million desperados, you have a recipe for disaster. Not to mention the deep social and religious tensions running on the ground practically in all parts of the country, concealed by the state run media.
A communist state, even with limited free market, is incapable of building a properly functioning economy because it interferes into every aspect of day to day business and operates on the assumption that giving orders is the same as providing incentives for producers. No wonder one third of state-owned enterprises in China are operating at a loss, existing solely on state subsidies, to make the overall picture look rosy. That is why China’s economic stats are about as reliable as Fidel Castro’s promises to start respecting his people’s civil rights and liberties. Chinese official stats are for mugs, if you want it straight, and anyone who treats them seriously needs his head examined.
The only reason why China has been growing rapidly in the past several decades was because the starting point was set very low – China’s economy was minuscule in the 1970s and because Western banks and all sorts of dodgy investors pumped enormous amounts of money into it, getting huge returns on the production of consumer goods by slave labour. Never mind that the quality of these good was abysmal. The money men were only thinking of their profits. But the backlash has already started and in countries like Russia people simply refuse to buy Chinese made goods. And its catching on across the of Europe as well. (The last Christmas shopping period went disastrously wrong for the retailers in the West and it was only thanks to their accountants, who fiddled the books that it didn’t look like a meltdown.)
And as for the Chinese military threat, well, to be honest America is so ahead of China militarily that it would take about 1000 years for the commies to catch up with the yanks. Not to mention that nuclear weapons that are so despised by left-wingers are a good guarantee that no communist nutcase would ever dream of invading a country that can hit back with a vengeance.
The good news that China’s economy is starting to slow down, compliments of the financial crisis brought on by the greedy bastards who run banks. The pressure within the country is mounting and the communists are feeling the heat. The best scenario for everyone would be for China to break up into three or even four states that would start bickering between each other and competing for supremacy. The chances for that are looking good, especially if the rest of the world starts boycotting Chinese made goods.
So don’t start learning that Mandarin yet. You might not need it at all.
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