Tuesday, June 26, 2007

As long as we buy it

Reading a lot about China at the moment. Daughter is just about at the end of her gap year there and Wife is going out to spend a couple of weeks touring with her before they both come back. Co-incidentally, the current Atlantic Monthly is dedicated to it with four fascinating articles. The cover feature is by James Fallows, who now lives there and is well worth a read. He narrates a slide show as well with views of the city of Shenzhen, whose population in the last 25 years has grown a hundredfold.

I came across another slide show, by Ed Burtynsky, this one looking more at what was rather than what is. One of Burtynsky's captions reads:

"Taiwan said 'we're going to become the semi-conductor manufacturer for the world' and now they ultimately produce 50 percent of the world's semi-conductors; Japan said we're going to make cars and electronics and they've become dominant in the world in those two fields.

The difference with China is that they have no such strategy, they're just saying 'wherever there's money, we're going to do it.' They produce 90 percent of the world's Christmas ornaments and they're not Christians, they don't even know what they're for or what they represent, but they make them because we buy them. They don't care what they're making as long as we buy it."

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