China is the future role model nation of the world. It is investing heavily in infrastructure and in education and works hard on improving people’s standard of living. Although it still lags behind many Western countries, it is narrowing the gap quickly. What can the West learn from China’s growth process and is China leading the world to a new future?
Much has been said about China’s ability to initiate and to complete projects in relatively short periods of time and about its investment in education, in health, in environmental protection and in technology. Many around the world think that China is the Future, because all of these phenomena demonstrate Beijing’s desire to assume a leading role in the world. One should wonder whether the areas mentioned above are correlated, and if they are, how so? In this post, I would like to scan very few examples that exhibit how China takes that leading role and to inquire whether certain conditions allow these phenomena to occur in China and not elsewhere in the world.
Beijing believes that infrastructure, and especially China’s bullet train network, is of major importance to advance its economy and to make China the Future leader of the world. Whether it is transportation (trains, planes or buses) or transmission (water, electricity or sewage treatment), It is clear that infrastructure is the key for future progress. The infrastructure investment in China has been unprecedented and accounts for 38% of the $586 billion stimulus plan that was implemented in 2008. The plan helped create more jobs and turned areas that were once remote more accessible and closer to major cities.
Nevertheless, education is yet another field that Beijing sees as in need of improvement. In order to compete with Western countries, China will need a stronger educational base, especially encouraging creativity and innovation in high-schools and in universities.
China Is the Future
Many Western countries are experiencing stagnation with their decision making process. Voters vote, discussions are held and goals are set, yet results usually fail to follow. How is China able to set such ambitious goals and to achieve them at such an extra-ordinary speed?
There are several reasons that allow this situation to occur:
First, China is not a democratic country, and citizens are not usually able to argue or to resist decisions made by the local or central government. This fact makes is doubtful that China is the Future global leader. For example, for the past twenty years, Tel Aviv, the biggest city in the state of Israel, has been caught in an on going debate about building a light railway system within its boundaries. The construction has not yet started due to several bureaucratic problems: In Israel, city halls are not responsible for infrastructure projects, but it is the government that is responsible for them. The government was picky about finding the right company that would build the railway system. After the company had won the bid, it reveled that it is unable to finance the project, so the project was later shifted back to the government. Other problems include arguing with city representatives about where the train should go through, starting work and then stopping it, etc. These issues manifest the poor ability of the state of Israel to achieve goals.
Second, China has a need to lead. It was relatively separated from the world for many years (up until 1978, when Deng Xiao Ping had decided about the Opening Reforms) that it seems there is a need to show the world what the “real” China is and that indeed, China is the Future. This phenomenon is rooted deeply into the Chinese culture and is partly based on history: China has been humiliated and conquered throughout history. There is a feeling here that it is time to manifest global strength. This feeling expresses itself, for example, in the magnitude of events that are hosted by China, such as the Beijing Olympic Games or the Shanghai Expo.
Third, China needs to maintain a certain standard of living for its people, in order for the government to remain in power. When the standard of living keeps rising, as it has been in the past 32 years, people will be able to accept certain conditions, even if these conditions do not suit their wishes or needs.
Personally speaking, it is very inspiring and yet frustrating to see such fast progress in such little amount of time. It is inspiring because China should set an example for other nations on how to set goals and to achieve them. It is frustrating because evidently Western countries are not in a position to act like China, for various reasons. The result is that the West is losing the race towards a more modern society.
Several major questions are needed to be asked: Will China succeed in its ambitious plans to promote education and to stir innovation and creativity in its people? Education for creativity and innovation derives from culture. Can China change certain cultural characteristics in order to encourage people to be more innovative and creative? And, finally, Do you think that China is the Future leader of the world?
Share your thoughts.