Things I’ve discovered since coming to China:
- Beijing is significantly cleaner and more liveable than last time I was here two years ago. The preparation for the Olympics is giving China an enormous leap forward in progress in a very short time. The Chinese are absolutely set on making this the Olympics to be remembered.
- People here are far more globally-minded / clued-up and have a much more “normal” (and capitalistic) worldview than the outside world usually gives them credit for.
- Prices here are already at least as high as US prices for many items — including, to my surprise, clothing… I was shocked to walk into a mall and see suits for US$1200 and ties for US$80…
A few things China has embraced, perfected, and then dominated, in approximately chronological order:
- The art of war
- Large-scale construction
- Merchant trading
- Heavy industry
- Lean manufacturing
- Product imitation and refinement
China eventually became the world’s best in each of these areas, while the area was still of high global importance. Once the following item can be added to the end of this list, the world stage will look very different:
I don’t think that is far off. (In my opinion, the main thing standing in the way of China’s development is extreme inefficiency. I’m sure I’ll write more about this in future…)
It follows that the meteoric rise of prices of goods in China — 2-3x for some goods since I was here last, bringing a lot of prices in line with most other developed countries — will affect the cost of goods in other parts of the world.
The era of the free lunch (on China’s bill) is nearly over.