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China's Future
Alex Steffen, 26 Sep 06

Orville Schell spoke at the most recent Long Now seminar. His subject was the future of China, and whether or not China could make the kinds of long-term investments in its future that its success as a nation now demands. Tim O'Reilly blogs Stewart Brand's notes capturing the gist of the talk:

These days you cannot think usefully about China and its potential futures without holding in your mind two utterly contradictory views...

ROBUST CHINA:
- Peaceful borders in all directions
- Economic, non-threatening engagement with the entire world, including with societies the US refuses to deal with
- 200 million Chinese raised out of poverty
- Private savings rate of 40 percent (it's 1 percent in the US)
- 300 million people with cell phones, and the best cell phone service in the world
- A superb freeway system built almost overnight
- New building construction everywhere, and some of it is brilliant
- 150 million people online
- 350,000 engineering graduates a year
- One-third of the world's direct investment
- Huge trade surplus
- And an economic growth rate of 9 to 12 percent a year! For decades.

but also...

BRITTLE CHINA
- Not much arable land, so a growing dependence on imported food
- Two-thirds of energy production is from dirty coal, by dirty methods, growing at the rate of 1-2 new coal-fired plants per week
- 30 percent of China has acid rain; 75 percent of lakes are polluted and rivers are polluted or pumped dry
- Of the 20 most polluted cities in the world, 16 are in China; you don't see the sun any more
- Some industrial parts of China are barren, hellish wastes
- Driven by environmental horrors and by widespread corruption, there were 87,000 instances of social unrest last year, going up every year
- The population is aging rapidly, with no pension or welfare, and a broken healthcare system
- The stock markets are grossly manipulated
- Public and official amnesia about historical legacies such as Tiananmen Square in 1989

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Comments

I have listened to the podcasts of Long Now Seminars in the past and they can be quite thought provoking.

The audio for Orville Schell's lecture is not yet available. I assume it will be soon. http://www.longnow.org/projects/seminars/

The LNF should really have a place marker on the page as on the Seminar page there is no listing of the event as well.


Posted by: George on 26 Sep 06



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