Monday, April 13, 2009

James Fallows betting on China

Idle factories, moored container ships, widespread bankruptcies, massive migration back to the hinterlands, strangely clean air—the signs of depression are everywhere in China. Because it makes so many of the goods the world isn’t buying now, China stands to be worse hit than the rest of the world —just as America was during the Depression, when it was the world’s sweatshop. But like America then, China will use tough times to design innovative products that will get it the high profits and the high-value jobs Americans kept to themselves for decades. And that is very bad news for the United States, unless it uses tough times to reinvent itself, too.

. . . .

China faces big problems, and its modern history has been marked by the unforeseen. Perhaps we will look back at the spectacle and choreography of the Beijing Olympics opening ceremonies as the last time the world thought there was no limit to what China could achieve. But I am betting the other way.

This article suggests Mr. Fallows -- America's preeminent journalist covering China -- thinks that country's future is (a) promising, and (b) not that good a thing for America, unless America makes major changes to its mode of operation to keep up. This is the least confident I've found Mr. Fallows on the subject of China-US.

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