2 August 2009

Posted by DMC on 2 August 2009 in Diary |

After hearing from Michael, I was able to confirm the flights with the travel agent today for the trip to China and Thailand in October. I just hope I don’t deteriorate too much in the meantime as, at my age, it is almost impossible to get travel insurance at anything other than a ludicrously high premium and therefore I am at risk for the not insubstantial airfare, if, for any reason, I am unable to travel.

I very recently finished a fascinating look about China, given to me last Christmas by son Miles – it was a heavy book in both senses of the word, Jonathan Fenby’s History of Modern China –The Fall and Rise of a Great Power 1850 – 2008, published by Penguin. It took me a long time to read the 800 odd pages but it was well worth the effort and has given me an even better understanding of the functioning of modern China than I had even after my 10th visit.

I particularly liked Fenby’s description, towards the end of the book, of China’s system of government as one ‘of bureaucratic capitalism, underpinned by force and marked by exploitation, with little time for fostering human happiness in anything other than material terms, as the last major Leninist state, only with Chinese characteristics; as a nation whose impact is changing the world but which remains deeply unfathomable as it’s own rulers grapple with the problems of unprecedented size.’

China’s role, and that of India, on the world stage, in the 21st century, has exercised my imagination for some time. Consider this comparison of these two emerging giants:

China India
Population 1.6B 1.2B
Life Expectancy 71 68
Adult Reading 93% 60%
Infrastructure (per head off population?) $7 $1
Manufacturing Jobs 150M 10M

Under five-year-olds are twice as likely to die in India than in China.

“To get rich, first build a road” Chinese Proverb.

This information may not be entirely up-to-date but it does give a fascinating insight into these two emerging economies. The socialist market economy of China and the largest democracy in the world.

Unfortunately, for the life of me I cannot remember where I got this information from. Perhaps someone can identify it for me and I will attribute it in a subsequent version of this blog.

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