Fareed Zakaria asks Does the future belong to China? While the article focuses a bit too much on the geo-political threat that some believe China poses to the U.S., it still summarizes nicely some of the ways in which China is coming into its own:
[T]he statistic that wins this contest, that conveys the depth and breadth of the challenge the United States faces, is surely the one about the Intel Fair. Intel sponsors a Science and Engineering Fair, which is the world's largest precollege science competition, open to high-school students from around the world. Last year was a good one for Americans: 65,000 participated in the local fairs that are used to select finalists. In China the number was 6 million.
China's rise is no longer a prediction. It is a fact. It is already the world's fastest-growing large economy, and the second largest holder of foreign-exchange reserves, mainly dollars. It has the world's largest army (2.5 million men)... In five years, China will produce more Ph.D.s than the United States. They may not be as good as American Ph.D.s, but numbers do matter.
For more on the impact of China's rise, see the new Vital Signs 2005, just published by Worldwatch, and which I recently blogged -- see http://makower.typepad.com/joel_makower/2005/05/vital_signs_200_1.html
Fareed Zakaria writes,
>They may not be as good as American Ph.D.s
Is there any reason to suppose this might be the case? Unless there is evidence underlying this speculation, the statement may instead be a bone thrown to Newsweek readers to keep from offending those with American superiority complex.
Sad. Not the way to stay competitive, either.