Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Winds Of Change On China's Futures

One hell of a long article at Winds of Change on the subject of Chinese futures. China's huge inland borders and relatively small coastline is a big handicap:
China's big geopolitical weakness is, of course, geography. Though it will be dependent on naval lines of supply for many of the its future resource, including food, China is ringed by satellite powers that are well positioned to choke that access. Belmont Club's Big Trouble in Little China drives that point home with solid analysis and interesting facts, including this GlobalSecurity.org shipping map
No wonder the Chinese are effecting a simply staggering blue-water navy buildup, including their own answer to the US Navy's AEGIS-class missile frigate. Much of this is driven by the staggering demographic changes ahead for China. Coercive familiy size controls have created a society principally consisting of young men; such societies tend to be unstable:
One data point that fixates a lot of people's attention is China's surplus of young males, a statistic that has often been a predictor of war and social instability. This article is an excellent and balanced look at that phenomenon. I especially liked their note that each young Chinese male being responsible for 2 parents and up to 4 grandparents; it's a useful reminder of how cultural & social patterns can change the context of the data we see. "China's Time Bomb" also touches on the less-discussed but equally significant phenomenon of China's rapid aging, as its median age soars from about 32 today to at least 44 in 2040. Hu Angang, an economist at Qinghua University in Beijing, puts it this way: "We will have the social burden of a rich country and the income of a poor country."
Good, good stuff, and well worth reading in its entirety. I haven't even been over to most of the links, but they look fascinating as well.