[FoRK] From Meccania to Atlantis

Stephen Williams sdw at lig.net
Tue Dec 22 23:18:16 PST 2009

Michael Cummins wrote:
>> Touches on, but doesn't definitively reference.  In these faux 
>> news days, that is highly suspect.
> I found some of it to be uncomfortable reading as well, but it was still
> quite interesting.  Mr. Seiyo didn't beat around the bush much.
>> The Chinese will be in a more delicate overall position than the US for a
> very long time.
> Why do you think that? I'm not challenging your assertion, I just don't know
> enough about it to hold an opinion.  

Just my opinion, based on many factors.  All easily disagreed with.  
Place your bets.  One task queued is to learn a little Chinese.

Are the great masses of rural subsistence farmers an asset or are they a 
great drag on any kind of rapid change or movement?
Is the broken-but-working-anyway government an asset or a slow motion 
train wreck?
Are the super artificially low wages rational?  Would anyone who gains 
significant skill and knowledge keep feeding it?
The language and cultural barrier make it tough to be competitive in 
many ways.  Good enough for manufacturing, way too distant for most 
other things.
Corruption is a way of government, and business to a large extent.  Not 
a good base for anything.
What happens to China if we quickly perfect AI-based robot factories?
What about other possible major paradigm shifts?  Nanotech, etc.

The insistence on control, slow social change, murky ownership and 
reward, etc., along with the gigantic momentum of all of those people, 
are all going to make China lag in any real paradigm shift.
> I *am* bumping into more and more Chinese companies these days, just doing
> business.

Sure, Taiwan is still booming, as it will continue to.  It is one of the 
manufacturing hot beds and has a lot going for it.  Other business has 
been branching out.  I'm still not convinced they are suddenly going to 
replace Silicon Valley, Hollywood, Wall Street, etc.  Seems like we have 
a nice mutually beneficial system going, except for the trade imbalance.

While they are nuclear, are now in space, have some decent to great 
technology in some areas, I don't see evidence that they are going to be 
leading in multiple areas or even on par.  I suspect that many of their 
successes have involved relatively huge outlays, stolen/borrowed tech, etc.

I think that within the next few decades it is more likely that China, 
and probably India, will be more of a drain on the world than a 
powerhouse.  All kinds of scenarios are possible.  There could even be a 
giant reverse flow of money with the US just for medical care and 
technology for the projected massive elderly population.  Hopefully they 
will earn enough now to pay us then.  And hopefully they don't end up 
owning the whole country sooner.

This web site seems to have a lot of typos, but it has some interesting 
> Population density: 362 people square mile (compared to 4 per square 
> mile in Mongolia, 72 in the United States, and 1,188 in South Korea). 
> The population density of China is three times the world average of 91 
> people per square mile. In Shanghai, China's largest city, there are 
> almost 100,000 people per square mile. Only twelve cities on earth, 
> including China's Shenyang, Tianjin and Chengdu, have higher 
> population densities.
> In the year 2000 Shanghai had a population of 20 million people; 
> Beijing and Tianjin had 15 million each; and seven other cities had a 
> population of more than 5 million each. More than 100 Chinese cities 
> have a population of more than 1 million.
>  Population Growth in China
> The population of China is greater than the entire world 150 years 
> ago. Every year the population of China increases by 14 million people 
> (the number of people in Texas or Chile). Each decade it increases by 
> about 130 million (more than the population of Japan). About 39,000 
> new people are added everyday.
> Population growth (2007): 0.6 percent. China accounts for 11.4 percent 
> of the world's population increase.
> Average number of children per woman: 1.75 (compared to 1.5 in Germany 
> and 7.0 in Ethiopia). The average fertility rate in rural areas is 
> 1.98; in urban area it is 1.22.
> The population of China is expected to peak at around 1.5 billion 
> around 2033 when China is expected to be overtaken by India as the 
> world’s most populous country. The population of China is expected to 
> start declining around 2042. 
>  Population Problems in China
> With such a huge population, every social problem is magnified. If 10 
> percent of the population in China is unemployed, for example, the 
> number of people out of work is equal to half the population of the 
> United States.
> Already the strains of over population have caused severe water 
> shortages in places with high rainfall and produced housing shortages 
> in cities where the average person lives in the space the size of a 
> small closet (12 square feet per person).
> The economy in China is booming in part because 70 percent of the 
> population is of working age. This will change dramatically as the 
> population ages and fewer children become adults because of the old 
> child policy.
>  Graying of China
> Another consequence of a low birth rate and one-child policy is an 
> increasingly older population. As of 2005 about 143 million people 
> (more than 10 percent of the population) were over 60. This is more 
> than population of all but about ten countries. The rate is expected 
> to increase at a rate of 100 million a decade. By 2050, there are 
> expected to be 438 million elderly, or one out of four Chinese, 
> compared with one out of ten in 1980.
> In Shanghai, people over 60 already make 21.6 percent of the 
> population and are expected to make up 34 percent in 2020. Similar 
> trend are occurring across the country, especially in urban areas 
> where the working-age population is expect to peak in about 2015.
> By 2050 China will have more than 100 million over 80. If things don’t 
> change that means that just 1.6 working age adults will support every 
> person aged 60 and above, compared to 7.7 in 1975.
> As the working-age population shrinks, labor cost will rise. China’s 
> aging population could undermine the advantages of low-cost labor by 
> the middle of the 21st century. In 2007 China had six people in the 
> workforce for every retiree but this ratio while fall to 2:1 by 2050.


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