Pangs of Development
China’s rise as an economic power and possibly a world power has taken the world by surprise. Chinese goods have penetrated markets and malls all over the world. Some of its project such as train to Tibet, Three Gorges Dam, Olympic Stadium, giant hydro power projects and aircraft industry have widened the eyeballs everywhere. How a nation that had so jealously guarded its privacy for centuries has managed to so long was has become so business friendly is the perplexing question. China suffered xenophobia for century. Cultural revolution (1966-76) by Mao Zedong was the most potent symbol of its xenophobia. Chinese always wavered between perceiving the outside world as a threat or an opportunity. After the Cultural Revolution Deng Xiaoping encouraged foreign trade and relations. In 1990s all middle and high schools began teaching English. Here are a few amazing facts, both positive and negative, about China:
* During the last 30 years the Chinese economy has grown at a rate of 10% a year. 150 million people have left the countryside mostly to work in the factories along the eastern coast.
* Estimates reveal that country is adding five to six billion square feet of floor space to its residential and commercial building stock every year.
* One of every 20 dollars of China’s GDP is generated in Shanghai and a fifth of the nation’s exports—up 50% in real value since 1992— pass through its portals. China produces and consumes nearly a third of the world’s steel.
* China has the world’s largest number of Internet users—20 million—surpassing web surfers in the US.
* 70% of the world’s umbrellas are made in china; 60% of world’s buttons, 72% of US shoes and 50% of US kitchen appliances are produced in china; 85% of Christmas trees sold in the US and 80% of toys sold in US are against made in China; 9% of the total Chinese goods imported by the US end up on the shelves of the Wal-Mart.
* Cell phone use is growing at an astronomical speed. In 2000, there were 87 million cell phones. The number grew to 432 million in 2006.
* China is a car crazy nation. Everyone wants to have a car. Now there are now one one crore 15 lakh privately owned cars. It was only 1994 that the Government started encouraging privately ownedcars. A thousand news cars are joining the car population every day in Beijing.
* While for 1,000 population in the US there are 450 cars, Chinese have 9. But China would have more cars than the US by 2025.
* High economic growth has its own price. Nearly 45% of Chinese urban residents are at health risk due to stress with the highest rate among high school students.
* Due to the one-child policy and traditional bias against girl child the gender ratio has skewed down to 119 baby boys to 100 girls. It is feared that by 2020 there will be 30 million young men who will be unmarried. They are called ‘bare branches’ in China.
* Three in ten Chinese families have grandparents living in the same household.
* Beijing enforces a one-dog policy that prohibits pets more than 14 inches high.
* 67% of millionaires surveyed say they are sacrificing health for money.
* China has become the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide. China is adding equivalent to two midsize coal-fired power plants each week —adding a capacity comparable to the entire UK power grid each year. There is a critical shortage of water and other basic resources.
The gap between rich and the poor and the rural and the urban has grown dangerously. City incomes are three times more than the village incomes.
* China has only 7% of the world’s fresh water and has to sustain 20% of the world’s people. Its famous Yellow (or Huang) river has turned toxic and almost runs dry before it reaches the sea. Of the 660 cities in the country, more than 400 lack suficent water with more than a hudred of these suffering severe shortages.
* Most young people in china have grown in one-child homes and therefore are spoiled brats due to the indulgent parents. Most common fear among the youth who have entered jobs is mortgage payments.
* With Chinese having access to social media, the million dollar guess is how long can the ruling Communist Party continue to suppress the dissent.
* Press, media and Internet are censored. China ranked 163 out of 169 nations on freedom the media index by Reporters Without Borders. (Source: extracted from ‘China: Inside the Dragon’, National Geographic and Billions of Entrepreneurs by Tarun Khanna)