Good Reads: America's decline, China's rise, the way forward
There's a new genre of American journalism called 'Decline Watch,' tracking America's slow steady decline and China's rise. Here's your daily cup of sunshine.
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Another critical advantage for Apple was that China provided engineers at a scale the United States could not match. Apple’s executives had estimated that about 8,700 industrial engineers were needed to oversee and guide the 200,000 assembly-line workers eventually involved in manufacturing iPhones. The company’s analysts had forecast it would take as long as nine months to find that many qualified engineers in the United States.Skip to next paragraph
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In China, it took 15 days.
China’s rise is hardly news. Starting in the late 1980s, it was seen as a positive factor, with the growing number of foreign owned factories in China helping to ease the country into a global free market. Chinese prosperity was a win-win scenario for American businesses, since it created new markets for American products and expertise.
Now the win-win scenario has turned into a zero-sum game, writes Gideon Rachman this week in Foreign Policy. In an uncertain economic climate, it is harder for two rival economic powers to prosper. Instead, the growth in China’s economy comes primarily through sucking away jobs and revenue from the US and Europe.
This, Rachman predicts, will inevitably lead to tension, and perhaps conflict.
Yet, as an alternative, China’s authoritarian father-knows-best model isn’t all that great either. Chinese leaders – all of them members of the ruling Communist Party of China – are able to make bold decisions because no dissenting views are allowed. But to dissent is human, and the growing number of protests across China, over rising prices and unsustainable wages, are an indication that Chinese leaders may not be able to take the patience of the Chinese people for granted.
For comfort, Western liberals tend to point to leading Chinese dissidents, such as Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, who are pressing China’s leadership to loosen their grip on power. But the end-goal for Chinese dissidents isn’t necessarily a Jeffersonian democracy.
In a new book of essays, reviewed by Simon Leys of the New York Review of Books, Mr. Liu suggests that his goal may be neither American democracy nor Chinese authoritarianism, but rather a new hybrid still to be discovered.
I now realize that Western civilization, while it can be useful in reforming China in its present stage, cannot save humanity in an overall sense.
If we stand back from Western civilization for a moment, we can see that it possesses all the flaws of humanity in general….
If I, as a person who has lived under China’s autocratic system for more than thirty years, want to reflect on the fate of humanity or how to be an authentic person, I have no choice but to carry out two critiques simultaneously. I must:
1. Use Western civilization as a tool to critique China.
2. Use my own creativity to critique the West.
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