China, the 2nd biggest economy in the world now! What does it mean for Singapore?

August 17, 2010

(To increase the font in this essay – hold down the Ctrl key and keep pressing +) It’s now official, China has finally overtaken Japan as the world’s second-largest economy. According to the latest gross domestic product figures for the two countries, China’s second-quarter nominal GDP of $1.343 trillion topped Japan’s Q2 GDP of $1.295 trillion. The trend is clear. China is on the rise, so how does this affect Singapore?

Well if you ask me not very much – as GDP figures by themselves don’t really tell you much except measure how much folk are spending – they don’t for example, tell you stuff like what are they spending it on? What is their expectation? Is it long or short term? Or even whether what they are spending on has a sustainable value or something that is closer to a pipe dream.

In short measuring the wealth of a nation by GDP is pretty imprecise at best. And at worst so misleading that all it can do is lead one down the proverbial hall of mirrors.

For starters, stellar economic growth doesn’t always tell you at what price are these goodies delivered – do they for example come from an exhorbitantly high, social, cultural and ecological cost?

Potential investors and China watchers alike should be aware that investing in China is not a risk-free proposition. Neither should they buy into the state run propaganda tag line – all is fine and life is just great!

Although the country is red hot, China is still a developing country that is grappling with the simple hubris of trying to fit old with new to come out with something that works – that has not always produced happy results.

Labor relations between workers and employers are already beginning to surface – the demand for fair and equal wages due to dehumanising working conditions that regularly transforms Chinese sweat shops into suicide hubs is a growing social problem – the chronic shortage of affordable housing and the run away real estate market continues to mire city slickers.

All these problems when seen from a macro perspective tell us that China is not the Shangrila that it’s so often portrayed to me – to exacerbate all this there is a polyglot of nick nacks that will continue to stymie China from being considered a role model economy – patchy accounting systems, corporate transparency, and governance are not nearly as well-developed as they should be to fully support a No.2 economy.

The degree to which the Chinese government can interfere in the economy is also something that continues to trouble many China watchers. Along with it’s fixation to control the internet at every cost. Even if it means hiring stadium loads of cyber troopers.

And while no one doubts China may offer a compelling long-term and sustainable model for many poor countries seeking astounding economic wealth, no one can say all this was not proferred at such a high price, it may not be worth it at all – it makes the Faustian pact look like two kids agreeing to trade Pokemon cards. No. Personally, I don’t think the China model offers anything at all. No hope. Nothing…except maybe….darkness.

Darkness 2010 – The Brotherhood Press 2010

“China is a very funny country. If they think you are a cyber crook. The first thing they will do is knock on your door at 4.00 am and take away all your computers. And they will tell your employer you have been detained. So of course you will be sacked. Then after doing that they will give you a receipt and put you in a room with a one way mirror and they will look at you for days. Sometimes they will put on the heater in summer. At other times, they will deliberately keep the room like an ice box in winter. What they are trying to do here is to play psychological warfare – 9 out of 10 people crack and never get beyond this level – only one get through this meat grinder. Then after that the police will say sorry to you for fucking up your whole life. And just in case you didn’t get the message; they will tell you this case may be reopened again any time in the future. Yes, it is a very funny country, because as soon as you leave the police station. Your hatred for the system will be so great. That if you happen to be the one of out the ten, then you will probably make it one of your life long ambitions to learn everything there is to know about fucking up the establishment – this would never ever have happened had they not have done what they did. And this is what the Chinese government do on the scale of mass production every single day. They do this to thousands of young people everyday. Like a farmer spreading the seeds of bad karma. No country on this planet has ever pissed off so many gamers in this planet before. They have elevated the art of pissing people off into a theoretical science and to a level that makes Toyota motors look like a Mom & Pop outfit. That is why for every fire wall they erect. There will never be a shortage of cyber tunnelers. Then they wonder why they have so many enemies – yes, the Communist Chinese are very funny people. They are so clever that even I do not understand them. But one thing is for sure. I think, I will continue to help and fund anyone who wants to drill holes in the Chinese fire wall. Yes, you heard me load and clear.I will fund you! That is to say, I am prepared to give you all the technology, training and funding that you need….you did not hear wrong! And what can the Chinese government do to me….well, they can do fuck all! Remember my name….I am Darkness of the Brotherhood!”

Darkness 2008 – conversation captured by an auto bot in the confederation somewhere in Bavaria.

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