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For American pundits, China isn’t a country. It’s a fantasyland.


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Some of you are old enough to remember how the pundits told us that Japan was gonna kick American ass in every way possible, and leave our children to a life of penury unless we completely changed our educational system and learned Japanese and gave up feminism and committed to big corporations. This was in the 80's, shortly before the Japanese economy although still powerful starting going steadily downhill, and corporations both there and here stopped WANTING their workers to commit, and they woke up to the demographic nightmare that is a nation which will be 25% pensioners -- many of whom hit mandatory retirement at age 55 or 60 -- by 2020 plus a birth rate that hasn't been at replacement levels since 1975.If you lived through the Japan Inc. years, you should be well innoculated against the similar strain of Orientalist fear-projection around China. The Japan scare shows how trivially easy it is for people to over project certain trends, completely miss the bigger ones (for instance, the Japanese government until very recently did studies insisting that the lowest sustained birthrate in the world was a temporary dip!), and of course no one can see black swans on the horizon (like that whole Internet thing). But if you need a booster shot, here is a delightfully brisk takedown of the China punditocracy from a Beijing based writer.

Thanks for stashing this.

It seems like China has problems of its own and America should focus on healing itself. 

Because China is so vast, its successes can be attributed to whatever your pet cause is. 

Do you oppose free markets and privatization, like John Ross, former economic policy adviser for the city of London? Then China’s success is because of the role of the state. Do you favor free markets, like the libertarian Cato Institute? Then China’s success is because of its opening up. Are you an environmentalist? China is working on huge green-energy projects. Are you an energy lobbyist? China’s building gigantic pipeline projects. Are you an enthusiast for the Protestant work ethic, like historian Niall Ferguson, who describes it as one of his “killer apps” for civilizations? Then credit China’s manufacturing boom to its 40 million Protestants — even though they’re less than 5 percent of its 1.3 billion people.

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