International ties

A Journey of Wonder in China

By Ashok K. Roy (
Updated: 2010-06-18 17:15
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10. Most restaurants I visited seem to have private dining rooms, with hot pots (a tradition handed-down from the Mongols). Honorific male and female lion statues in front of national buildings and restaurants are popular.

11. There is near-zero obesity based on a medical definition of obesity. This is indeed remarkable, especially when you come from the United States and observe such obesity on a regular basis.

12. Morning industrial exercises, across all ages and groups, can be seen.

13. There is efficient management of electricity in hotel rooms in that power turns off automatically if you do not have the room-key in the slot.

14. Every fast food chain is represented (KFC, McDonalds, Coke, Starbucks, Pizza Hut, Subways, etc.)

15. Smoking is acceptable everywhere and is very common. Obviously, this could have long term consequences on the country's health costs.

16. Full course meals are served on every domestic flight, unlike the peanuts/pretzels served on domestic flights in the US

Of course, nothing in life is perfect and there are many banana skins on China's trajectory of growth. Cases in point include gross personal income disparities, social stratification, regional economic disparities, environmental pollution, population pressures, and housing prices in Beijing and Shanghai (both Tier 1 cities, and municipalities) making city livability very difficult. In general, however, what I saw was sound public policy in action everywhere. I also noticed an enormous sense of self-confidence among the many people I met.

A famous Chinese philosopher rightly observed: "If you wish to plan for a year, sow seeds. If you wish to plan for 10 years, plant trees. If you wish to plan for a lifetime, develop men." Recognizing the wisdom of this saying, China plans to stockpile IQs via a plan for a "national outline for medium and long-term talent development" according to statements on May 26 by President Hu Jintao and Professor Hu Angang of Tsinghua University.

There can be no doubt that I have witnessed the defining economic and geopolitical change of this century. The success and stability of the state- capitalist China model (Beijing Consensus) will fuel debate about the role of the state in normative macroeconomics, monetary policy, finance, and economic innovation. In economics it is said that the questions remain the same but the answers go on changing.

The author is assistant vice-president for financial services & associate professor of Asian studies at Kennesaw State University of US.

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