Receive "The World According to Tom Barnett" Brief
Where I Work
Search the Site
Buy Tom's Books
  • Great Powers: America and the World After Bush
    Great Powers: America and the World After Bush
    by Thomas P.M. Barnett
  • Blueprint for Action: A Future Worth Creating
    Blueprint for Action: A Future Worth Creating
    by Thomas P.M. Barnett
  • The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-first Century
    The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-first Century
    by Thomas P.M. Barnett
  • Romanian and East German Policies in the Third World: Comparing the Strategies of Ceausescu and Honecker
    Romanian and East German Policies in the Third World: Comparing the Strategies of Ceausescu and Honecker
    by Thomas P.M. Barnett
  • The Emily Updates (Vol. 1): One Year in the Life of the Girl Who Lived (The Emily Updates (Vols. 1-5))
    The Emily Updates (Vol. 1): One Year in the Life of the Girl Who Lived (The Emily Updates (Vols. 1-5))
    by Vonne M. Meussling-Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett
  • The Emily Updates (Vol. 2): One Year in the Life of the Girl Who Lived (The Emily Updates (Vols. 1-5))
    The Emily Updates (Vol. 2): One Year in the Life of the Girl Who Lived (The Emily Updates (Vols. 1-5))
    by Thomas P.M. Barnett, Vonne M. Meussling-Barnett
  • The Emily Updates (Vol. 3): One Year in the Life of the Girl Who Lived (The Emily Updates (Vols. 1-5))
    The Emily Updates (Vol. 3): One Year in the Life of the Girl Who Lived (The Emily Updates (Vols. 1-5))
    by Thomas P.M. Barnett, Vonne M. Meussling-Barnett
  • The Emily Updates (Vol. 4): One Year in the Life of the Girl Who Lived (The Emily Updates (Vols. 1-5))
    The Emily Updates (Vol. 4): One Year in the Life of the Girl Who Lived (The Emily Updates (Vols. 1-5))
    by Thomas P.M. Barnett, Vonne M. Meussling-Barnett
  • The Emily Updates (Vol. 5): One Year in the Life of the Girl Who Lived (The Emily Updates (Vols. 1-5))
    The Emily Updates (Vol. 5): One Year in the Life of the Girl Who Lived (The Emily Updates (Vols. 1-5))
    by Vonne M. Meussling-Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett, Emily V. Barnett
Monthly Archives
Powered by Squarespace
« New Navy slogan is very SysAdmin | Main | The dollar "decline" is definitely a decision made »
4:38AM

Seeing China's Present Through America's Past

china_laborer.png

Americans' fear of China right now is palpable. We see danger in its products, in its vast reserves of our currency, in its growing military might, in its ravenous hunger for raw materials, and in its single-party state. With "Made in China" seemingly stamped on the bottom of everything we bring into our already overstuffed houses, we worry that China will soon buy and sell us, just like Japan seemed poised to do two decades ago.

Continue reading today's New Rules column at WPR.

Reader Comments (4)

I'm pretty sure Communist China has had no Franklins, Jeffersons, or Eli Whitneys. All those men were in the small-numbered founding generation alone, and China's now fifty years old. Part of that's because of the speech limitations and corruption. Another part's that they're only starting to get that scientific method thing. China has claimed some important medical advances, but unlike Franklin's work, I don't believe any has yet been replicated. I'll be happy if you can find a counterexample. But, China has brought in people whom can show this stuff by example, so, I'll guess it'll get better, but still short of the democracies unless and until it gets some more freedom.
October 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJon
No, Deng's China is only turning thirty this year. And I have met several versions of the men you name there. But this is no greenfield operation like colonial America was.

The communist part was the anomaly, as most Chinese today will tell you: a mere 30 years out of 5,000.
October 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTom Barnett
Remember, Sinclair wrote 'The Jungle' to highlight the worker's plight, but the FDA resulted. Triangle Shirtwaist fire had a bigger impact on life safety and fire codes than on occupational safety & health. Workers were fair game for quite a while in this country, as was the environment, and we didn't create OSHA and EPA until the 60's.
October 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTEJ
China's certainly encouragingly good at enterpreurialism, good at treating its engineers and other elites decently enough to make some pretty cool and effective things, unlike Kim Jong Il, and good at some pretty impressive stuff.

What it's not yet so good at, IMHO, is the leading technical edge. Name one Google or Cisco, where a brought out a whole new category of product. They've got the good Legend, of course, but that's because of IBM's help. They're slightly behind on leading-edge fabs, and computer and software companies are only just starting to dip their toes into China, having long been inclined to favor India somewhat over China for design and development. Name one truly major post-Mao technical innovation, on the order of Franklin's lightning, or our TCP/IP, or the UK's cloning.

Like I wrote earlier, China is improving quickly on that front, because they're taking the right actions of establishing research labs and universities with good people. But, will grad students who discover their elder generations are wrong about, say, how people really use the Internet; will they be persecuted or allowed their say? Will people be allowed to invent Internets without spending most of their time on politics and enough tracking and limiting software to keep the Party, old newspaper- and CD mongers, and everybody else in power from feeling threatened?

I think they're likely to get better over time, as China comes to understand they need more freedom to compete better with democracies, though the timeframe could be long.
October 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJon

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>