From Overseas Press

China not yet a superpower

Updated: 2010-05-12 14:45
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To truly become and remain a superpower, China will need to work on how it presents itself to the outside world and reform its education system, said Shaun Rein in an article published in Businessweek on May 10.

Rein, founder and managing director of the China Market Research Group, believes that although China's rise has undoubtedly grabbed the world's attention, China is not yet a superpower, for being a superpower is no longer about the ability to drop enough bombs to obliterate the entire earth but about economic power and the ability to launch chaos via cyber and financial warfare.

Rein pointed out that being a superpower means that China cannot just focus on its economy and needs to change its image abroad. According to Rein, China does not do a good job with the rest of the world. The article cited the recent misguided attacks on China by people like New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) about currency policy, Beijing's disagreement with Google (GOOG), and the criticisms over the arrest of Rio Tinto's (RTP) former China head Stern Hu as examples to show that China needs to get better at soft power. "While the Confucius Institute and dizzying Chinese acrobatic tours show promise," said the article, "more needs to be done to promote the China brand internationally."

Rein underlined that in addition to brand building, China needs to address deficiencies in its education system. He said that the current education system is not adequately preparing its students for a global business world. "Despite the number of college graduates increasing from 1 million per year 10 years ago to 6 million, one of the top concerns foreign businesses have in China is recruiting workers with the talent and skills to do their jobs."

Additionally, too much of China's education system is based on rote memorization, large class sizes, and early direction of students into major tracks, which needs to be changed, said the article.

Rein suggested that a more interdisciplinary, liberal arts-style education system be implemented, with students being allowed to choose their majors after they enter university and try different courses of study, and that universities also work with forward-thinking companies like Intel (INTC) and Apple (AAPL) to help devise course material that is useful for students to help find jobs after graduation.