We thought we were going to have to pry Kristi out of Hong Kong. While only 7 million people, this is the most densely populated place on earth. It also has the worlds most developed public transportation system, it is used by 90% of the populations…double decker trolleys!!
Strictly tourists here, we took the bus tour with side trips up to the Peak by cable car, up the escalators (cover about 20 blocks up the mountain), ferry to Kowloon, and out to Resolute Bay where we almost got in a swim before the weather turned.
Wrapping up the trip, we all reflected on what we had seen and heard and what it meant for both the Chinese and Americans.
Our first observation is that Americans should not be mislead by the media snippets that seem to constantly project the idea that the China model is about to fail. In two decades, this model has lifted a record number, say 400 million people, out of poverty. It is a model that can coherently address issues such as alternative energy, urban planning, economic development, religious and ethnic tolerance, etc. The mass of people are moving forward and not held under some kind of intolerable yoke.
The second observation is that for at least another decade China will be absorbing raw materials at a growing pace. Cement, steel, you name it. They will do what they need to do to assure future supplies of these materials. We, as Americans, do not have some inalienable right to cheap energy or raw materials….we are going to have to pay the market rate.
The third observation is that at least some parts of China are no longer a developing country. These areas are as first world as it gets and will be competitive in education, research, development, manufacturing, distribution and marketing as any western companies we know today. The Chinese have built more miles of infrastructure such as roads, railroads, subways, runways, tunnels, bridges, power lines, dams, water lines, sewer plants and more square feet of real estate: industrial, office, residential, retail, educational, health care in the last decade that the rest of the world combined. They are or shortly will be the largest consumer market in the world. They will soon be setting the standards for all the goods produced.
The fourth observation is that while we argue about Tea Parties, teaching evolution in the schools, and the reality of climate change; as a country we fall further behind the rest of the world in many aspects we hold dear. Further, more and more of the world is looking with reasoned skepticism as to our claims of superiority on many fronts. While as a people we are loved and respected around most of the world, as a nation we have become a debtor with diminishing respect around the world.
Marcia continues to ponder the question….which are more important to the future of the society ….. the individual rights that Americans so cherish or the collective thinking that is so deeply ingrained in Chinese culture in order for the society to survive?
In closing, I would urge each of you who care about these issues to read ‘When China Rules the World’ by Martin Jacques.