The Inevitable World War With China
The 800-pound gorilla no one talks about
Sept. 20, 2005, Vol. 1, Issue #32
IN THE NEWS
BEIJING--Visiting the Chinese capital for the first time since 1996 is a startling experience. Nothing you've read can prepare you for the overwhelming physical reality of China's explosive growth, its leap from the bicycle age to the age of Audis, cell phones, and a middle-class passion for fashion.
Wander through Beijing's glitziest malls and watch crowds of young Chinese chatting on cell phones, roaming in and out of Nine West, Mr. Klein, Givenchy, Rolex watch stores, Starbucks, Pizza Hut, or the local Cineplex, and you realize Americans have paid too little attention to the world's biggest story.
"Worldview-The New-Look China"
Philadelphia Inquirer, Sept. 15, 2005
At the InfoUSA privacy forum in Aspen last July, Tom Peters went into orbit over China.
The size and rapidity of change is breathtaking, he told forum attendees. Every 26 minutes a new foreign-owned factory opens in China. Every 43 hours a new research and development office opens in China. Every month for the next 15 years, China will have to build a new infrastructure equivalent in size to Houston, Texas.
"Sam Walton was Mr. Buy America," Peters said. "Today Wal-Mart's purchases in China are bigger than all of Germany's.
"I will never again wear a baseball cap not made in China.
"Success Strategy Rule #1: Never compete against China on cost or Wal-Mart on price.
"Rule #2: See Rule #1.
"We must innovate our way out."
Tom Peters is renowned as a business guru.
Peter Drucker once said that journalists use the word "guru" because "charlatan" is too hard to spell.
Peters's world view is as shallow as a saucer.
China today poses some incredible challenges to fair global business, to the safety of foreign corporations with offices located within its borders and to the very future of international security.
But what is truly worrisome is the 800-pound gorilla that will almost certainly trigger the mother of all World Wars.
China the Violent
In May-June 1989, approximately 100,000 students and workers rallied in Beijing's Tiananmen Square to protest government corruption and economic chaos. On June 4, the People's Liberation Army responded with tanks and guns, laying down a murderous fusillade that killed, by some estimates, thousands of their own citizens. To this day, China has permitted no investigation of the incident and has expunged it from all records.
China the Repressive
- The Chinese government maintains over 300 secret "labor re-education camps" that are totally outside the judicial system, where approximately 300,000 inmates have been stripped of all legal rights.
- Last week, Jerry Yang Ph.D., co-founder of Yahoo, admitted he turned over information to the Chinese government on journalist Shi Tao, who was convicted of sending state secrets to foreign-based Web sites. According to Journalists Without Borders, the "state secrets" were government warnings to domestic journalists about reporting sensitive issues. Shi Tao was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Ten years in prison for posting a Chinese government warning to domestic journalists!
- A New York Times researcher, Zhao Yan, was imprisoned a year ago. From yesterday's New York Times editorial:
No one, except the Chinese authorities, knows precisely why Mr. Zhao was grabbed in a restaurant on Sept. 17, 2004, but it apparently was retaliation for The Times reporting in advance that the Chinese leader Jiang Zemin would retire. Mr. Zhao had nothing to do with that article, but the government has since charged him with leaking state secrets, a capital crime.
Mr. Zhao's imprisonment is tragically typical of China's tight control of the press. Thirty other journalists are currently imprisoned in China, according to the organization Reporters Without Borders.
- American businessman David Ji was arrested in October 2004 and kept under house detention for six months with no court hearing, accused by a Chinese supplier of reneging on $400 million in payments.
- According to Chris Buckley in the Aug. 4 International Herald Tribune, China has cracked down on foreign satellite broadcasters and added heavy restrictions on foreign TV programs, books and newspapers as well as theatrical, musical and motion picture performances.
China the Duplicitous
The Chinese economy is growing exponentially on the backs of American and European inventiveness. My files gathered over the past eight months are replete with myriad stories of piracy and theft of technology, copyright and patented materials. A sampling:
- The Chinese company contracted to make key electronic hearts of Apple's iPod stole the technology and is selling it to manufacturers all over Asia.
- Chinese knockoffs of competitors' automobiles costing 30 percent less are expected in the U.S. within two years.
- Transmissions by the world's pay-TV operators have been stolen by Chinese entrepreneurs and are now being broadcast all over the Far East.
- Unauthorized copies of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince were on sale in Beijing two weeks after the book was released in the U.K. and the U.S. and three months before the publication date in China.
- Pirated copies of Star Wars: Episode II--Revenge of the Sith were available all over the Far East within days of its opening. Pirated DVDs of top Hollywood films are routinely for sale in China and Hong Kong the day after they are released nationally here.
- Behind the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, a giant mall sells Swiss watches, designer handbags and jeans, Hollywood movies, American CDs, luggage, software and auto parts--all of them counterfeit.
Quite simply, if a society can steal technology, violate copyright and patents, and manufacture other people's products without spending the intellectual and financial capital to develop them and sell them for peanuts all over the world--of course they can eat everybody's lunch and put us all out of business.
The Difference Between Boys and Girls
In 1954, my father was signed to write a biography of Clare Booth Luce, U.S. ambassador to Italy and wife of Time-Life founder Henry R. Luce. I was invited to accompany him and my stepmother to Rome for six weeks. We sailed on the ancient Italian liner, Conte Biancamano. Two of our fellow passengers were Sherman and Betty Raveson. Sherman was an elegant and witty painter who reminded me of Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Betty was a wild Auntie Mame type--statuesque, with blue fingernails, and funny as hell.
Betty was taking a shower in the cramped bathroom of her cabin when the hot water quit. Desperate, she started twirling knobs and pushing buttons hoping for hot water. Suddenly the bathroom door flew open and a male cabin steward burst in spouting Italian. Stark naked, Betty shrieked and threw him out.
Later, when asked why she summoned the steward, Betty explained that she saw two buttons on the wall under two icons in the ceramic tile--a maid and a butler. "I wanted hot water," she explained. "Boys are hotter than girls, so I pushed the boy button!"
China the Gender-Skewed--the 800-Pound Gorilla
All of the above--theft of copyright and patents, the occasional jailing of foreigners, control of the press and blowing the heads off dissidents--are hardly worthy of a prediction of a cataclysmic "Mother of all World Wars."
The next World War, I and quite a few others believe, will be based on the premise that "boys are hotter than girls."
I once got into a nasty, loud argument at a dinner party with a woman who is in direct marketing. It started when I said I have no interest in ever going to China.
"Why don't you want to go to China?" someone asked. "The human rights issue?"
"Human rights is their business," I said. "No, my problem with China is the one-child policy and the state-sanctioned murder of girl babies."
"Wait a minute," this woman said from across the table. "I've been to China five times and have a master's in Far East studies."
"You have to study China--and actually go there--to understand the situation. They've got over a billion people. They live cheek by jowl. They have no privacy. They can barely feed themselves."
"That gives them the right to murder little girl babies?" I asked.
"Nobody murders little girl babies," she said. "The government doesn't come through the countryside ripping girl babies from their parents' arms and killing them."
"What happens then?"
I erupted. "That makes it okay? It's okay to have a child, and then abandon it?"
"You don't understand," the woman persisted. "If you don't have a boy child--it's a cultural thing with the Chinese. For centuries they have believed that if you don't have a male child the family line will cease to exist."
Current statistics indicate that because of the vast numbers of Chinese baby girls given up for international adoption plus gendercide--millions of abortions and abandonment of female babies--the current ratio of birth registrations in China is 118 boys for every 100 girls. In the rather droll, understated words of the BBC's Adam Brookes, "In other words, nearly one-seventh of Chinese girl babies are going missing."
For second births, the ratio is 152 boys for every 100 girls, according to Arthur E. Dewey, assistant secretary of state for Population, Refugees and Migration.
Although projections vary, several studies have indicated that by 2040 the population of China will reach 1.6 billion.
If the gender gap is 10 percent, that means by mid-century China will have 160 million more men than women. That is roughly equivalent to the combined populations of Germany, France, Belgium and Switzerland today.
China will be awash in testosterone.
The World War slated for the middle of the 21st century will not fought be over territory, nor oil, or water or gold.
The war will be over women.
Just imagine 160 million Chinese men barred from a traditional family life that includes a wife and child due to a shortage of Chinese women. These bachelors will see other more successful suitors attracting mates and achieving a life they have no hope to gain in the future. What will these bachelors do with their lives?
This is not a new situation in China. Writing in USAToday, Paul Wiseman described Shandong Province in the 1800s where rampant infanticide so skewed the sexes that for 100 women were 129 men. The result was the Nien Rebellion that took 17 years for the government to quash.
This was one small province in eastern China. What happens when 160 million men--communicating by Internet and cellphones--decide their lives are empty without women?
One possible scenario is internal collapse as prostitution, kidnapping of women, bride-trafficking, dependence on narcotics and gang wars cause China to implode and descend into anarchy.
Far more likely, China will resort to sending its men off to war to avoid national strife--a strategy that has been executed by other countries in years past.
In 2050, will the United States be able to resist so vast an assault and safeguard the sanctity of the American family?
If our ability to protect the residents of New Orleans or the newly freed citizens of Iraq is any indication, the answer is a resounding no. This will be especially true in the mid-21st century when 99.9 percent of America's tax revenue will go toward paying interest on our $40 trillion national debt. No money will be left over for anything beyond paying congressional salaries and Halliburton.
The descendants of the obscenely rich American CEOs--including Jerry Yang of Yahoo and the Walton family, who will have personally made tens of millions doing business with the Chinese in the early years of this century--will be able to hop private jets and fly off to fortified hideaways in remote corners of South America.
For the rest of us, there is good news.
With the world's oil supply totally plundered, the seas barren from over fishing, the polar caps melted causing the oceans to rise 20 feet and drowning the cities on all coasts, and our grandchildren hating us for our profligate ways, the 21st will be a grand time to be dead.
- Do business with China, and you run the risk of your technology being stolen and very good knockoffs of your product on sale at a fraction of the regular cost--first in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong's Stanley Market.
Eventually it will be sold on the streets of every capital of Asia, Europe and the Middle East as well as New York, Chicago and San Francisco.
- If you do business in China, and you---or one of your employees--should inadvertently displease the government, the result could be prison for months or years.
Web Sites Related to Today's Edition
Halter USX China Index
Tiananmen Square Massacre
Modeling Population and Oil
China's One-Child Policy
No Girls, Please
China's Unwanted Girls