Getting It and Betting It
China is easily the least understood of the world’s major economies. Given the mystery that perpetually enshrouded the China of older times to the world outside, this is hardly a new phenomenon. But it is one whose implications grow increasingly consequential with each day that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) rises in importance as a modern economic superpower.
Since China’s pivotal reopening to the outside in 1979, both it and the world beyond have been dramatically changing. China has gone from avoiding foreign trade to becoming the epicenter of a worldwide, integrated manufacturing system. Along the way, it has emerged as a leader in key global industries such as mobile telecommunications, automobiles, and alternative energy. China’s demand today for and supply of commodities and natural resources moves world prices. An apocryphal story that used to circulate in the World Beyond China (WBC) not so long ago related that if all the people in China jumped at the same time, the Earth would be knocked off its axis. Turned out that the teeming masses of China never needed to jump; they just needed to start producing and consuming enough to genuinely reorient the world in its material economic existence.
In response to this reorientation of our planet’s economy, companies from the WBC have beat a path to China to invest their euros, dollars, and yen in order to hitch a ride on what appears to be the unstoppable steamrollering of China’s economic juggernaut. People from every corner of the WBC flock to Chinese cities for study or employment, or to strike deals in order to maintain competitiveness in a global market system that effectively revolves around the machinations of a country whose modern existence bears truth to the Chinese name for China:
The WBC has been betting on China, and betting big. Because of the sheer size of these wagers—the money, resources, talent, planning, and ambitions at stake—