There was a story on Slashdot, "China overtakes US as Supplier of IT Goods". It has many interesting comments made mostly by westerners. Some views are about why China has been so successful in terms of economy. Others think US should stop doing business with China because of political differences.
if only their government didn't suck ass, they could be so great. They have immense cultural momentum, a well reasoned and disciplined populace, and a penchant for churning out intelligent people.
You've never considered that maybe the reason they're doing so well economically is that their government has absolute control and can do unpopular things that it thinks are necessary? Don't get me wrong, I certainly prefer living in a democracy, but it would be a mistake to think a democratic government is the best in every respect.
This was correctly modded insightful. Assuming the government acted only as a hindrance to the current progress is ignoring the obvious. Their government has done quite a lot positive to get things to the point they are today.
The Chinese government has some very big problems, but it also has two really important things going for it.
1)The Chinese government has shown itself to be adaptable. The level of free enterprise that exists today in China was unthinkable 50 years ago. The level of general freedom as well. The government correctly saw that the country could not compete economically without change, so it changed.
2) Change is coming relatively slowly. This has allowed the Chinese people to become comfortable with their new rights and responsibilities and therefore use them more wisely. In the Soviet Union, where change came quickly, the people and government could not effectively make use of their newfound freedoms. The countries suffered as a result. Perhaps if they had had more time things might have turned out differently for them.
More change must come to China. My guess is that it will come, but it will take a few more decades to get close enough to the west that we feel comfortable.
The Chinese have a lot of advantages. The first is sheer numbers...a higher number of people can be educated and work in the technology field. All other offshoring destinations (India, etc.) have this same advantage. The second is control; the Chinese government can still crack down and force people to do things that may otherwise be unpopular. The Soviet Union was famous for this when they forced the industrialization of Russia in a very short period of time. The third is an educational advantage. The only way to get ahead in Chinese society is education, and it seems from the numbers that parents drum this into their kids' heads right from the start.
I think that one of the things we could do to reverse the trend is to find a way to graduate more students in math/science/engineering. They're being scared off because they think that the only jobs left in this country will be in management. I can't say I blame them either.
These comments got me to think about the One Child Per Family Policy. I have always thought about this policy from the negative stand-point - for example the population aging problem. But China's recent success made me think in a different direction.
One Child Per Family Policy can also be seen as a survival for the fittest tool. You have a lot of males and maybe half the female. That means you (male) either have to be smarter, richer, or better looking to find a mate. It is a brutal battle and only the best survives. It is an artificially generated gatekeeper.
You can argue that there are women outside the country too. Yes, true. But then the unfortunate over-ratioed Chinese male would have to have the money, the political connection, and the ability to speak at least 2 languages to go outside the country. In the end, same affect is achieved. On the grand scheme of things for China, looking from a statistic point of view, only the above average will reproduce. Normally, you only have to be average to find someone - speaking from probability.
Of course, I am assuming women would generally choose the better male, the good looking ones, the funny ones, the smarter ones, the rich ones. That assumption might not be true. Yet from a pure evolution stand point, it would be interesting to see how the next generation of Chinese turns out.