It is interesting how nearly every politician seeking national office blames China for a major part of our economic ills, as if the China aristocracy has masterminded a plot to take over the world using cheap labor and ruthless acquisitions of land, minerals and scientific data. Well, so is Russia and India – and us.
I was in China twice during the peak years of 2006-7. I met and spoke with many Chinese people there, stayed in their homes and spent time learning about who they were. Relative to their past the economy was surely booming, all the major cities bristled with sky cranes, miles of new roads were being poured daily, new apartment buildings (each apartment actually a condo, referred to as a house) were going up like build-it toy sets, and more people than ever were buying cars. Nearly every taxi is some model of Toyota; in Beijing there’s a good chance the taxi you hire will be a Camry, in a less prestigious city a Corona or Tercel. When I was there new Corona cost about 13K in U.S. funds. The Chinese make a little van that is much cheaper and will haul 7 cozily though 10 Chinese people can and often are crammed into one. The Chinese also make a few other small to semi-luxury cars, plus pugish trucks, high and truncated to maneuver around their narrow streets.
Times were so good in the cities that people without a college degree in the scientific or medical field could, if they had someone with a little influence in their family, buy a low paying job. Vendor farmers were doing so well they could sometimes afford to buy food other than what they raised, even a little seafood from Australia. But these farmers who came in the afternoon to set up their stands and sell produce and fruit, chicken and ducks, were at the bottom of the boom. They got pennies for all their labor and were fed up with being left out; so they initiated the beginning inflation that swept through China just as the boom was slowing. Soon a pound of pork cost about the same as in the U.S. Chickens and ducks cost three-plus times what they used to, so do eggs. It is the inevitable result of unbridled growth.
Now we have a president-elect in the U.S. who has railed against China as the great economic destroyer, but he has a partnership in a business there and owns a car financed through a Chinese bank. The truth is the Chinese love us and we’re their best customer. American fashion is what everyone wants in the stores. When they wear the latest popular jeans they feel like they are in American culture. Students dream of a gaining facsimile of our rights and freedoms, which is what young people are getting jailed and sometimes killed over.
I’m writing a story about China that is different than anything I’ve done in the past. I think it will show a different perspective than many people imagined about present day China. I hope to finish it early in 2017.
More later . . .