Publisher’s Letter: China’s two worlds
The results of last year’s Global Warming Summit in Copenhagen created a media frenzy in which the western press blamed China for aligning itself with the world’s third world countries and then requesting equal recognition and compensation in respect to China’s reduction of its level of green house gas emissions, writes Carl Jetter.
It is a strange contradiction.
On the one hand, a country of almost 1.4 billion people crying poor, while on the other hand, being recognised as one of the richest countries in the world, with China fast approaching the title of the number one trading nation on earth.
A 2009 Hurun report found the Chinese mainland now has 825,000 multimillionaires (individuals with personal wealth in excess of RMB 10 million or US$1.46 million) while its affluent middle class is potentially larger than the American middle class – and yet China is still considered ‘a third world country’.
China obviously consists of two worlds, each with varying levels of growth within.
Firstly, there is the fast expanding affluent, industrial and educated sector within
China’s first, second and third-tier cities.
China’s urban population currently stands at more than 540 million, with the anticipation that a further 300 million rural dwellers will migrate to the cities within the next 20 years.
Meanwhile, large areas of regional China represent a third world living environment and standard – little modern infrastructure, lack of social support and poor working opportunities. An estimated 11 percent of China’s population survive on less than US$1 a day – creating a major contrast within the one country. One is left to wonder how much faster this remaining middle band of around 50 percent of the Chinese population will be in reaching China’s “first world” given how much the country’s top-tier wealthy Chinese have achieved within the last 30 years. Presumably the 50 percent now on the move to reaching first world living standards are going to do so even faster.
Here is a very small, yet telling example. The most popular wedding present for a couple living on a farm in a small country town is a computer. China now has one of the largest Internet populations in the world and fast expanding. (China Internet Network Information Centre estimates the country has 384 million internet users). Meanwhile, the world’s wealthiest government continues to spend billions of dollars in regional China, improving infrastructure, supporting farmers and offering low interest finance for businesses.
And regional China is responding.
When western governments accepted China’s stance to align itself with the Third World at Copenhagen last year, they clearly showed poor judgement and ignorance, but for China it was a very clever move indeed.
Just as the year of the Ox gave China the opportunity to slow down and take a steady approach in line with the global financial crisis, the Year of the Tiger will give China the impetuous to show the West its ability to grow beyond expectations.
I wish all our customers, partners and readers a Year of the Tiger full of strength and new opportunities to grow China style.
Gong Xi Fa Cai.