Sunday, May 15, 2005

Learn Chinese

I have always been a Sinophile. I've always loved East Asian culture and food, particularly Chinese and in college, I took every Chinese history and sociology class I could get my hands on.

Ever since Marco Polo, the West has been trying to tap into the huge Chinese market. Over a billion people, each with two arms and two legs - think of all the deodorant we can sell them as well as shoes! But China never was particularly interested in western courting. The British got angry enough they decided to get the Chinese hooked on opium and when the Emperor complained, the British invaded in 1848 and grabbed Hong Kong which they held until 1997.

Since the Communist Revolution in 1949, China wanted little to do with the 'imperialists', but since 1979, the Chinese have embraced the free market in a big way.

Newsweek in its May 9, cover story talks about the 'Chinese Century'. If the 20th century was America's Century, with the 21st be China's?

Some statistics are telling, if not frightening (if you are looking for a job in the US):

China's population is 1.3 billion (and India's is 1 billion). So if someone told you that you were 'one in a million', you'd take that as a compliment wouldn't you? If you were a 'one in a million' engineer or computer programmer that would mean China would have 1300 of these and India 1000. China has 4 times the US's population.

China has the world's largest population of English speakers - English is a required second language in China's schools. It has more cellphones than any other nation on earth. It maufactures 2/3 of the world's microwave ovens, DVD players, shoes ant toys, not to mention all the keychains and dice clocks you find in souvenir shops in Las Vegas.

WalMart is the world's largest corporation (8 times the size of Microsoft) and 4000 of its 5000 suppliers are located in guess where? China is also financing most of America's debt as well as becoming the world's second largest consumer of oil. Twenty years ago it was a net exporter of oil. Now you know why gas is $2+ a gallon and will probably remain so for the foreseeable future.

So I went to Costco today with my friend Ellen to stock up on water. Its supposed to be about 98 today, and I was looking for the book (I need another book like I need another hole in the head) Conspiracy of Fools about the Enron scandals. I didn't find it, but a picked up a 4 CD Learn Mandarin course. I tried this once before, but the tapes were from the Library, so I'll give this a shot. Maybe by learning Mandarin, I might have an easier time finding work with a multi-national corporation.

Correction: Red Hot Chili Peppers will not be performing until July, today its Kool and the Gang.


At 5:32 PM, Anonymous Jaylectricity said...

And we thought China was a miserable place to be...Is it controlled by a government? And do you know how their government works?

At 8:11 PM, Blogger Pig said...

Yes, of course, China has a government. It is a one party, totilitarian regime. It allows no criticism of the government, allows no 'free' press and no freedom of religion.

When Russia 'liberalized' under Mickhail Gorbachev, it allowed 'free speech' but little or no economic reforms. This led to the Russian people complaining about the lack of pensions, job security or having nothing to buy.

The Chinese government took a different tack since in 1979. People are encourage to speak up on issues such as making China more comepetitive in the world market and how to make a better mousetrap, but they cannot criticize the political regime in any way. China blocks foreign news sites, but welcomes ideas about business.

The Chinese government fears ANY group from getting too large, even if that group is not necessarily political, such as the Falong Gong, a quasi religious, tai chi group that was condemned as a 'terrorist' organization, simply because it had 60 million 'followers'. US businesses are all gaga about doing business in China, but take a very silent stance on human rights.


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