In past years, much was made about the economic potential of China. It’s a country that has for years been seen as a possible future economic power, while having the world’s largest population.
That future seems to be arriving. China has emerged as a player in the world financial scene, and it’s trending upward, so to speak. This topic was raised recently in a very good article at Invest It Wisely. I left a detailed comment regarding that article, which got me interested in sharing those thoughts here as well.
My personal interest and experience in China dates back about 20 years. At that time, I visited China as part of a student exchange program, which sent a group of American students there for about a month.
It was quite an experience to go there. At the time, there were very few high rises in Beijing, at least from what I was able to see. The airport was downright creepy, and was worse than any airport I have seen since then. Keep in mind that I have traveled a fair amount. There was one – just one – U.S. fast food operation in China at the time, as far as we were told: a KFC in Beijing. It might not have been the case, as our “teacher-leaders”, as they were called, wanted us focus on appreciating the native culture and the tremendous educational opportunity in front of us. Clearly, 20 years ago, we were out of our Western comfort zone.
It was fascinating in many ways: walking on the Great Wall, dining at the Great Hall of the People, seeing Tiananmen Square, visiting the Terra Cotta Warriors in Xian, and much more. Truly, it was an amazing life experience, especially for a kid coming from suburban Chicago.
That said, it was ominous as well, as it was clearly a controlled culture compared to what I was used to in the US. During our visit, we were warned not to take pictures of certain things, and this happened multiple times. I am certain that we were being closely watched while there, in case we went exploring in the evening. I left there thankful to have visited, and even more thankful to come back home to the good ole U.S.A.
As you might imagine, with that personal experience, I find it absolutely fascinating how China has changed since then. It’s like 20 years of calendar time has brought 60 years of advancements in some things, particularly in economic strength and the visible signs of it. An example of this is a person I know who has traveled there on business there within the last few years. He emphatically described the airport he visited there to be remarkable, with the roadways out the the airport being sparking clean and efficient. Clearly, this is different than that creepy old airport I had previously visited!
China is a growing economic beast, no question about it. Being an ancient culture, having a large population, and moving forward the way it is, it’s a formidable economic force in the making. Many of us already think about importing products when we think of China.
As a world citizen, I’m fascinated by what’s going on. Furthermore, the world is truly shrinking, so global events truly impact each of us, one way or another.
That being said, as a loyal, proud American, my primary interest is in my country keeping its place at the head of the table, so to speak.
It’s a bit of a flag waving viewpoint, to be sure. But frankly, I’m more concerned with what these things mean for our future and the future of our children. A high quality standard of living in my own country, reflected by an upper hand for the US (and our Canadian friends to the north) is the eventual positive outcome I’m looking for.
What are your thoughts on the growing economic strength of China? Do you think about what this means for us here at home, wherever that is for you?