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..There's a little Samuel Pepys in all of us..

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

What can be done to bring such a gigantic economic force into international play, while causing as few ripples as possible is the question the CEO of every Western business is asking him/herself these days.
It keeps them awake at nights.
Think-tanks are churning out economic impact scenario's in their hundreds, and as yet, none has any viable solution..
It seemed such a good idea, to expand western manufacuring bases into a society which had a general standard of living, that even the smallest wage made a huge impact..
But, as companies the likes of Mattel have so recently discovered, Western Safety Standards are significantly more stringent than those normally enforced, and if it isn't clearly spelt out in contractural agreements, local suppliers will take the downstream business, and supply local manufacturers with material acceptable under local law..
But poisonous by ours..
Fast food chains expanding into the Far East, might do well to ensure what's being cooked, would suit a Western palate..
And, once again it must be mentioned that China enjoys 'developing nation' status, but for how much longer..?
Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel had some urgent words with Chinese diplomats at the end of last month, when she spent three days in Beijing, about that country's role in climate change.. and this is one of the perks China will defend most vigorously, being a 'developing nation'.. They are exempt, at the moment, from any controls on fossil fuel emissions..
China is also having some reprecussions at home, with the influx of foreign investment. A new class is emerging, and this is causing inflation to rise in a society which is still largely divided in earning power..
At the Chunxiu Road Vegetable Market in central Beijing, shoppers and stallholders are grumbling about the price of food..
Pork laid out on plastic slabs has increased from about 7 yuan (92 cents, 46 pence) a jin (500 grams) last year to 11 or 12 yuan now.
Food price increases this year have led to a sharp rise in the consumer price index, the main gauge of inflation which jumped to 5.6% in July, its highest level in 10 years..and in a country where inflation and social unrest are historically linked, that statistic cannot be ignored by China's leaders.
On several occasions in the past, rising food prices have led to political problems for the government.. and inflation back in 1988 is thought to have contributed to the demonstrations in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, the following year.
So.. how to intigrate what's essentially a feudal system, and one which wants to remain so, into the mainstream of Wesern consumerism..
In fact, we have an amazing opportunity here, to take a country of vast proportions, and bring it into a workable society that did not revolve around physical speed, or oil.
A society which could restrict internal air travel to Zeppelins.. for in this age all we need to 'be there' is an internet connection. A country which could develop alternate-fuel burning engines.. one which could retain the bicycle as the main mode of transport for the masses within cities..
China, despite the polution overwhelming Beijing at the moment, could prove to be the world leader in ecological awareness..
Not necissarily what Russia would like to see, with China taking most of the production of it's oilfields..
But, what a chance for a sociological experiment...

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