Is China the Future?

Posted On: Wednesday - August 16th 2023 6:41PM MST
In Topics: 
  China  The Future

Upon a few week trip to the Middle Kingdom, I don't see how an observer wouldn't conclude that China is the future for the World. As Peak Stupidity noted in our pre-Intro. this past Saturday, there will be lots to say about China on this blog in the near future.

This post and the ones to come will not be written in the style of Fred Reed or any wild-eyed tourist on a 3 week excursion. There's a lot to be impressed with by the modern Chinese infrastructure. However, there's not that much that I hadn't seen 6 years back, though it's been built out quite a bit more since then.

That front-car* of one of the fast trains we rode in (I snapped that picture in violation of some yellow line on the platform and got mildly admonished) is futuristic looking, sure enough. These trains hold a steady 200 mph on most of the runs, and they are filled with ~1,000 people each. The route map I had pulled up on my phone had connections to all the big cities in China, of which there are A LOT.

I won't get into these details on the trains here. The main thing I noticed in a couple of weeks in China, as I have before, is that China is a "can-do country". It's full of a unified and generally intelligent Han population** who are not encumbered at this point in general by heavy regulation and large nuisance populations that are not only not helpful but actively harmful to progress. A new subway line that would be a proud 10-year accomplishment if ever finished in an American city is just a normal yearly project in China. Shit simply gets done there. That's very impressive as compared to America in this day and age.

This tunnel is just 5% shy of a mile long!:

It's one - the longest - of 15-20 tunnels on this one superhighway, 1:45 or so drive that 10 years ago was a 4 hour drive and 20 years ago was an all day journey on a hairy road through the steep mountains. This road is in a province far from the 1st tier cities.

Is this feeling a big change of heart by Peak Stupidity after our talk of dashed high hopes for China? (See also Part 2.) No, that's not exactly the case. Again, we've seen this amazing civil engineering work 6 years ago and prior. The dashed high hopes had to do with our vision from 15 years back of freedom in China. China is no longer the Wild, Wild, East, if it indeed ever really was. (It seemed to come close though, back in '07.)

Along with much else that was written about by Kai Strittmatter in his book We Have Been Harmonized*** of the electronic/AI enabled Orwellian society being developed, it's the phone-based payments, using We Chat and the social credit and health scoring system that has detracted from any hope I had for a gleaming Chinese future. That future might be physically gleaming, but not gleaming in any abstract sense.

The phone payments are ubiquitous, no doubt - we used them for big items - but they are not part of the kind of mandatory system I had expected. (I'll get to that in another post too.) However, the Chinese government, with the near absolute power of the CCP, one guy presiding, can use the systems in place to clamp down on any kind of behavior it wants very easily and at any time. Well, actually, it has already, with the downright ridiculous 9 month-long Covid~Zero program of '22 that Peak Stupidity reported on regularly.

But, yes, they've got their act together over there in the Middle Kingdom at this point. These infrastructure improvements allow for greater efficiency for other endeavors.

When told and shown pictures of what I'd seen, Americans have still given me the pooh-pooh type reply of "yeah, that's all using slave labor". Nobody meant actual slavery but they meant massive low-wage labor by Chinamen. No, that's not the case. Things are still inexpensive and wages are set accordingly, but massive Cheap Chinese labor is a thing of the past. That one child policy, taken fairly seriously by most, started in 1979. The youngest of those raised in large families are in their mid-40s now. They can't work like 20 y/o's.

Menial labor is done in Vietnam, Bangladesh etc, but managed by Chinese companies. For manufacturing in China and these amazing infrastructure improvements, they have stolen lot of IP, trade secrets, engineering knowledge, over the years, but they HAVE IT now. They don't need much help at this point.

Economically, China sure looks to be where the future lies. Politically, well, I'm hoping that America does not have to be a part of the future they're making over there. We've got more than our share of stupidity to put an end to first, but I don't think it's hopeless that we can't create our own, better future, right here.

That's my big overall impression from our trip there. There's plenty more to come on interesting aspects of life in China, with plenty of compliments and criticisms.

* I'm not sure one could call it a locomotive per se, as I figure all the cars are powered (via the scissors-style brush mechanisms on top of all the cars). The driver works in there, with just a few plush first-class seats behind him.

** We did get to some "minority people" areas. We'll have a post with pictures. One wouldn't know things were any different due to a) their looking the same to me as any other Chinese people, and b) their having been assimilated with not much left but the tourist sites.

*** Peak Stupidity reviewed it in 4 posts: Part 1 - - Part 2 - - Part 3, and Part 4.

Adam Smith
Friday - August 18th 2023 9:39PM MST
PS: Good evening, Dieter!

I've had pretty good luck with it...
Here's another that I've enjoyed good luck with...

Plenty of Peak Stupidity Book Club links have come from these two sources...

Cheers! And Happy Saturday! ☮
Dieter Kief
Friday - August 18th 2023 2:13PM MST

Thx. Adam - this site is interesting - if not even promising! I'll try my luck!
Adam Smith
Thursday - August 17th 2023 11:57PM MST
PS: Good evening, everyone,


Mr. Alarmist, our new •Indian overlords wouldn't feel comfortable living in a place without street shitters.

Mr. Blanc, if it were up to me I would outlaw borrowing for all levels of "government".
No Borrowing = No Debt. Pretty simple really.

Cheers! ☮
Thursday - August 17th 2023 4:43PM MST
PS If the 21st century is anyone’s century, it will be China’s century. But the Chinese will have to solve the debt trap that the West has not been able to solve. I’m far from confident that they will be able to do so.
The Alarmist
Thursday - August 17th 2023 7:42AM MST

The elites of India have decamped to the first world and are taking it over. Politically in Britain, tech-sector but morphing to politically in the USA.

They’ll nuke China once they have the West firmly under their control.

We should only hope that the Chinese, who are far more mercantile than militarist would nip that in the bud, but it’s too late.
Thursday - August 17th 2023 6:59AM MST
PS: Dieter, I rode that (orange?) TGV across France to Switzerland over 3 decades ago. I don't know if it was you Euros or the Japs that were first in building these "bullet trains". Yes, I was impressed.

My point about China is that they build all this stuff FAST. Then, they are heavily used, from what I've seen - both actual train seats occupied and trains on the line (going the other way). In the US, as I've written in "Trains in the Orient vs. America"

except for in that northeast "Acela Corridor", train travel doesn't make that much sense, compared to flying. Flying is BIG too now in China. I'll show a picture of the "board" with outbound flights in a small time period in the Shanghai airport. Whatever they do there, they do it big - when you got 1.4 billion fairly unified and capable people ...

The one MagLev train in Shanghai - we rode it this time to actually get from the A/P to town, rather than just for fun - has got to be a money-losing white elephant. However, the ones we rode on could have easily been paying for themselves.
Dieter Kief
Thursday - August 17th 2023 6:32AM MST
PS Mod. - always glad when you are glad!

I yet don't quite get what you're after in your China-piece. But there's plenty of reading-time left - I get that!

We do have some of those 200 mph trains in Europe. I don't ride them that often though... Our neighbors drove to Paris in June (oh it was beautiful - - but sooo full of people!!) - : - Three hours from downtown Mannheim to downtown Paris - -if you go on a plane, you are now asked to be 2 hours early for check in etc. -
Since you mention that Newt Gingrich is a bit late to the enlightenment gathering, I'll add this one about Christopher Lasch, who was so .e.a.r.l.y., that hardly anybody listened - and most of those who did, simply died then - - - which is oftentimes a misfortune of its own, so to speak - - - ok here is the very very (I'd say almost incrdibly insightful!) early bird - - - I posted the link to a good orbituary - and added some brainy context - - -most of the ones mentioned honorary members of the PS Book-Club - - - as is Christopher Lasch, if I remeber this one right - - - -

We are living in Christopher Lasch's Future: See Richard Rorty, Jonathan Haidt/Gregg Lukianoff, Jordan B. Peterson, David Goodhart, Helen Pluckrose/Peter Boghossian/James Lindsay/Joe Rogan, Steve Sailer, Matt Taibbi. Not to forget: Newt Gingrich above!

google: Christopher Lasch

Christopher Lasch, historian: born Omaha, Nebraska 1 June 1932; member, history faculty, Williams College 1957-67
Thursday - August 17th 2023 5:36AM MST
PS: Why, thank you, SafeNow! There'll be plenty of observations coming.

Mr. Kief, I read your link. I'm glad Mr. Gingrich knows what's going on, but he seems to have come a bit late to the realization that this is no Constitutional Republic, and, more importantly, he's been a squish since nearly 30 years ago when he and his colleagues broke the contract with US re the "Contract with America". That goes way, way back.

India seems a hopeless case, Alarmist. I did read that fertility is going down, simply due to poverty (often it's the other way around), but it would take a century for things to get better, other things equal.
The Alarmist
Thursday - August 17th 2023 3:43AM MST

Hate to say it, but India, complete with people taking dumps in the streets, is the future.
Dieter Kief
Thursday - August 17th 2023 12:46AM MST
OT but - - - this is Newt Gingrich with a 400 word piece that might well be quoted in years to come about the Trump Indictments and what led up to them - and what might follow - TGP has a transcript:
Wednesday - August 16th 2023 10:33PM MST
I savored this - - thank you. I greatly appreciate your keen eye, thought process, filter, and of course I trust what you say. Drama or literary critics used to cite a few examples of great writers and then simply say “that’s how good X is.” This comes to mind when I read your inclusion of the anecdotal fact that when you crossed the yellow line, you were “mildly admonished.” First, it is significant for me to know that somebody was there to admonish you. Second, I thought it quite interesting and important to know that it was mild. That’s how good Mr. Moderator is. I am looking forward to future posts.
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