Home>News Center>China

Experts: China's century is taking shape
By Tim Johnson (Knight Ridder)
Updated: 2005-07-17 21:09

If the 20th was the American century, the 21st may belong to China.

Just five years into it, China has become the world's third-largest trader, one of its fastest-growing economies, a rising military power in northeast Asia and a global player extending its influence in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.

Americans and others around the globe can feel the effects of China's voracious appetite for resources and the enormous output of its factories, staffed by an endless stream of migrants who toil for $2 a day churning out low-cost goods, undercutting foreign competitors and upending the low-end global workforce.

Silicon Valley is watching China's rise closely. It's a huge market for such key technology products as Intel's microprocessors and Hewlett-Packard's computers. It's a source of talent, from programmers to researchers, for mighty Microsoft as well as for tiny start-ups. And it looms as a competitive threat, as China's low-cost manufacturing and widespread piracy challenge the businesses of such valley giants as Cisco Systems and Adobe Systems.

Will it last?

The world has never seen a nation as big as China rise as far and as fast as China has in the past 20 years. Its ascent, like those of the United States, Germany and Japan before it, is challenging more established powers. Its continued progress depends on harmony with these and other nations.

Whether China's rise lifts all the world's boats or sinks some of them will depend, first, on whether its rapid economic development continues. There's no certainty. Most of the country is backward and poor. Small-scale rural protests erupt. Corruption erodes the credibility. Citizens have huge expectations about rising standards of living.

It would be unwise, however, to bet against China. With the exception of India, no other country has such enormous scale, including such a huge pool of highly educated people. And in an age of globalization, no country has been better able than China to swallow the innovations of others and leap ahead of them.

China's conglomerates are on the prowl. Following a path Japan once took, Chinese firms are scouring the globe. But instead of buying trophy buildings and movie studios, they've bought IBM's personal computer business, and they're looking at Maytag and Unocal, the oil company.

Economist Nick Lardy, a China expert, said its economy was likely to grow rapidly during the next five to 10 years because of its openness to foreign business, high savings rate and huge pool of underemployed rural workers who are eager to work in factories, even for low wages.

Although much of China's production is still low-tech, the government is pushing innovation and research into areas that have both civilian and military high-tech potential.
Page: 12

Bus crash kills 17, injures 37 in Hubei
Quzi Street at night
Abductor releases hostage after talks with negotiator
  Today's Top News     Top China News

Ma elected KMT new leader; Hu congratulates him



EU chief: China's rise no threat to others



Experts: China's century is taking shape



Beijing says general's words his own



Russia rejects bullying accusation by US



Tribunal lays first charges against Saddam


  Summer floods kill 764 people in China
  Ma elected KMT new leader; Hu congratulates him
  EU chief: China's rise no threat to others
  Beijing says general's words his own
  Boys' deaths spark rabies vaccine investigation
  Xinjiang mine disaster blamed on owner's greed
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  Related Stories  
China's rise on world stage no cause for worry in US
China's growth is opportunity not threat, says study
China's growth no threat to world
China opportunity, not threat to East Asia: WB official
Editorial: China's defense strategy threat-free
Spokesman rebuts 'China threat' theory
EU chief: China's rise no threat to others
  News Talk  
  It is time to prepare for Beijing - 2008