November 4th, 2011
in Op Ed
by Frank Li
As a Chinese-American who is enjoying the best of both America and China, I have been devoting a lot of effort, mostly through my writings, to the positive development of the U.S.-China relationship in hope of a better understanding of China by the Americans, thus a better America!
I am in China now, sitting comfortably in a teahouse with several college classmates to chat about anything and everything, from China’s economy to Occupy Wall Street (which they found fascinating – It’s like China, in its bad old days though). So there is no better time than now for me to write a small piece about China, the good, the bad, and the ugly, for interested readers in America.
1. China: the good
- Still remember the big earthquake in Haiti that happened in January 2008 and the bigger one in China that happened in May 2008? You may still hear about the former, as recovery has been very slow, but you have hardly heard about the latter for a long time, right? Recovered, totally! Thanks to the mighty power of China: the people as well as the government!
- Read this: “10 years on, Afghan Americans see lost opportunities.” What a difference between the Afghan-Americans and the Chinese-Americans! As one of the latter, I feel sorry for the former, as well as the Afghans in Afghanistan. I feel lucky for myself, as well as the Chinese in China. Far beyond that, I think this entire generation of the Chinese-Americans should feel the same way as I do for two main reasons:
a. We are doing well in America in general.
b. China, the dirt-poor country we left behind in the 1980s, has become so remarkably prosperous that it has enabled us now to enjoy the best of both.
2. China: the bad
- Read this Time cover story: Be very afraid of the China bubble! There are many bubbles in China. When any of them bursts, some people will get hurt. But there will be no financial crisis in China. Unlike in the U.S., the Chinese government has the power to pick and choose which bubble to deflate when it sees the necessity.
- The top two problems in China are government corruption and environmental pollution. Despite all the efforts by the Chinese, some of these problems have become ugly.
3. China: the ugly
- Read this: China’s Railway Minister Loses Post in Corruption Inquiry. Here is an excerpt: “A total of 146,517 officials were punished for disciplinary violations in 2010 ... Of those, 5,098 were officials at the county level or above, and 804 of them were prosecuted.” Need I say more about government corruption in China? The only good news in this aspect is that, despite corruption being endemic, at least some of the bad people are being pursued and prosecuted.
- Read this: Foshan tragedy measures China’s morality. Here is an excerpt: “Footage from a seven-minute video, in which a toddler in Foshan, a city in southern China, was hit twice by vehicles and ignored by 18 people walking by while she lay in her own blood, has stirred up fierce debate over China's moral crisis.” Can it get uglier than this? The Chinese are too busy making money to care about anything else - This is infinitely worse than the busy New Yorkers!
4. America vs. China
China, as a competitor but not an enemy, is well on its way to surpass America as the largest economy on earth by 2030 (or by 2020 per IMF’s formula). For this reason, every reasonably intelligent American should understand China, in order for America to have any chance in this head-on competition. Think of sports team preparation for contests. What does your favorite sport team (e.g. Chicago Bears or Chicago Bulls) do before a game? Study the opposing team (e.g. watching the video tapes)!
Here is the simplest possible explanation of China to Americans: what’s going on over there is raw capitalism plus a pro-business government that is of/by/for business! Nothing magical at all!
The issue of America vs. China can be simply explained as follows:
- Capitalism: America is still way ahead of China.
- Political system: the Chinese system is, IMHO, slightly better than the American one, which apparently is more than enough to compensate for China’s inferiority in capitalism.
If you think the current form of the American government is of/by/for the people, think again. Here are two perspectives:
- Are our children and their children “people” too? If yes, do you still think it’s right that we spend their financial futures like there is no tomorrow?
- If Congress is of/by/for the people, why is its disapproval rating at 87%?
The bottom line: the root cause of many American ills is its antiquated political system, nothing else! America’s economic system (i.e. the free enterprise system) remains the best in the world, despite all its problems. China is beating America in capitalism, while America has been self-destructing, with democracy, as we know it today, destroying America, especially the capitalism part, faster and better than everything America’s enemies have done, combined! In short, we are ushering in our own demise!
As a Chinese-American, I am experiencing something extraordinary: My home country China, coming from nowhere, has become #2, while my adopted country, #1 America, has been declining so fast that #1 and #2 are about to switch positions. Is this good or bad? I am not sure - I am worried that a country like America can be very dangerous, when it becomes #2 in economy with a 1st-class military, especially with an example in the the Iraq War.
It’s good for the world for America to stay at #1 in economy! Most Chinese-Americans, and many Chinese, agree with me on this! But we, the Americans, must do it ourselves!
Finally, here is a quote: “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” Who said it? Abraham Lincoln!
About the Author
Frank Li is the Founder & President of W.E.I. (West-East International), a Chicago-based import & export company. Frank received his B.E. from Zhejiang University (China) in 1982, M.E. from the University of Tokyo in 1985, and Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in 1988, all in Electrical Engineering. He worked for several companies until 2004, when he founded his own company W.E.I. Today, W.E.I. is a leader in the weighing industry not only in products & services, but also in thought and action. Dr. Li writes extensively and uniquely on politics, for which he has been called "a modern-day Thomas Jefferson" (see page 31).