Will They Be A Better Us Than We Are?

tep back a minute and think about China. Not about trade law and currency issues, or how
your business is being challenged — rather, what’s your take on the big picture?

China’s economy shares all the hallmarks of a young athlete — the discipline from a good
coach and the direction gained from strict authority. The economy is growing by leaps and bounds,
devouring monumental foreign direct investments, and building, building, building.

Textile World staff, on a recent trip to Beijing, noticed an editorial in China Daily
regarding air pollution. The piece cited one cause of the problem as the 4,300 or so open
construction sites in the city. Members of the group who had been in Beijing just two years earlier
were amazed by the changes.

In China, there is an overarching sense of national focus regarding all phases of
development and policy, which must be good for China first — an arguably necessary approach for a
country undergoing not just change, but complete transformation. There appears to be an awkwardly
effective mix of the Wild Wild West of capitalism, tempered by real authoritarian control and the
pressing stewardship of 1.3 billion people. But, it is at the beginning — so much so that China’s
story can’t yet be told.

Don’t take it lightly — during a conversation with an Italian machinery builder, he pointed
out there are cities in China undergoing incredible development, building the necessary
infrastructure to support modern society — cities that you may have never even heard of with 30
million people — equivalent to nearly half the population of Italy!

And on balance, the United States seems foolish. In China’s eyes, you need to look no
further than the lack of a long-term US-first policy. Instead, US policies encourage imported
products without regard for a strong domestic industrial policy. The US economy is more akin to a
middle-aged male facing a mid-life crisis.

As the United States focuses on relinquishing all domestic manufacturing of scale, and
grasps at developing a “new” economy, you have to wonder about the future. Is it too alarmist to
think US economic sovereignty is dead? Import oil, import manufactured goods, import services if
you can, and buy cheap. Consume rather than save, deserve rather than earn, think short-term profit
— until, like oil prices, everything changes. Then what? The Chinese aren’t debating building new
bridges — they are building new cities.

As it becomes easier to do business in China, as transportation and logistics improve, as
basic infrastructure such as power systems come on-line — the horizon is not yet visible for this
scope of economic development — and global political power.

So the question is: Will they be a better us than we are? As multinationals fixate on
transferring technology for short-term gains, as enhanced globalism becomes the mantra of US trade
policy and China harnesses the commitment, control and power of 1.3 billion people — What’s your

December 2004