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IEET > Security > Eco-gov > Rights > Economic > Life > Health > Contributors > Alex Lightman

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China’s Troubles

Alex Lightman
By Alex Lightman

Posted: Mar 19, 2012

An associate of mine recently expressed the opinion: “There’s nothing pathetic about China… nothing wrong with being #2.”  Excuse me, but I strongly disagree.

China’s rise, even if peaceful, is fraught with horrors, and these should be discussed globally, rather than the constant distraction of the crack-head obsession with GDP statistics that are probably fake, and definitely mostly from real estate, which is unsustainable in a nation with a workforce that is in the process of peaking over the next four years, and then plunging.

Here’s my list of problems in China:

1. Government suppression of the Chinese people.

2. World’s most polluted air.

3. World’s most polluted water.

4. World’s fastest increasing deserts, measured by number of people negatively affected.

5. Thousands of villages supplied with water by trucks, as their wells have run dry.

6. Lack of any moral compass in dealing with and supporting other regimes: all that matters is the mineral contracts.

7. Agreeing to the terms of the WTO, then seeking to extort and blackmail other nations over Rare Earth Minerals, like a sleazy merchant in LA trying to charge $10 a gallon for water after an earthquake.

8. Progress built on a Mount Everest of intellectual property theft of over $1 trillion, mostly from the US.

9. Stuck in 2% margin manufacturing, with zero trusted brands in global commerce.

10. Over 150,00 violent protests each year, more than 10x the rest of the world combined.

11. Harvesting of political prisoners for their organs.

12. 400% increase in military spending in the last six years.

13. Colonial aggressor and genocidal occupier of East Turkistan and Tibet, territories that had less than 5% Chinese.

14. Outrageous racism: virtually no citizenship granted to outsiders.

15. World’s worst female genocide, via female infanticide - 20 to 50 million murdered females. XX chromosome = death sentence for a population equivalent to a European nation.

16. No big innovations that benefited humanity as a whole in a thousand years.

17. Bragging about “94% Han” racial purity. How is that different from Hitler bragging about the purity of the Aryan race? Racial purity is a 20th century source of horror - what good has ever come from this sort of government obsession?

18. The 55-60 million Chinese who have left/fled China have an economic output roughly equivalent to China, indicating that the government is a burden on the people, not an enabler.

19. Lack of public medical care, in contrast to Communist rhetoric.

20. Source of diseases, and selfish, egotistical, nationalistic suppression of medical information about those diseases that could save lives in other countries. A new black death could be raging in China right now, and it might be kept secret.

21. Corruption endemic at all levels, “solved” by a bullet in the back of the head for those without enough political power.

22. Fake financials and overheated stock market dominated by government owned companies that can lie with impunity, and with actual ownership and control too blurred to follow.

23. Peak workforce and most rapidly aging poor country in the world, with a terrible elder safety net and one child per family impossibility of family care for the elderly.

24. Rotten to the core system of intellectual property protection, with the claim for $1.6 billion for iPad infringement just the most recent criminal mentality on global parade.

25. No consistency in real property ownership, with the politically unconnected constant victims of land theft by greedy and corrupt municipal counsels.

Alex Lightman is a graduate of MIT and attended graduate school at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. He is the author of Brave New Unwired World (John Wiley, 2002), the first book on 4G, and Reconciliation: 78 Reasons to End the US Embargo of Cuba (Social Universe, 2010). He was the recipient, on behalf of 4G, of the inaugural Economist magazine Reader's Award, for "innovation most likely to radically change the world, 2011 to 2020" in Oct. 2010.
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Here’s a good idea from China - a design of a floating city - very beautiful—based on the concept of Chinese traditional paintings—

#8: If you really think this is such a huge problem, better add it to the respective list for the US.

#12: How else do you propose it avoid the unenviable position of being dwarfed by the US’ military and having something it wants?


I live in China. Sure it isn’t as good as the US, esp. compared to West and East coast. But hey, it isn’t hell either. There should be a limit to hysterical exaggerations.

But I agree with many of the items listed. Hopefully, China can be a story of self-denying prophecy just like how the US always surprised the doomsayers in the past decades.

Now that I read your list more closely, I realized IEET should not have this kind of sub-quality article published on the site. I cannot help but chuckle at much of what you wrote.

Here are some factual errors:
16. No big innovations that benefited humanity as a whole in a thousand years.
16. I’m sure you have never heard of the Needham question, nor have you heard Bacon’s quote—“Printing, gunpowder and the compass ... whence have followed innumerable changes, in so much that no empire, no sect, no star seems to have exerted greater power and influence in human affairs than these mechanical discoveries.” And guess where did much of shipbuilding and navigation technologies come from before Columbus?
While it’s true China’s contribution to world’s innovation has been relatively little in the last 200 years, for the last thousand years, China ‘s contribution of invention rivals or exceeds the West.  And SHAGGGZ has a good link for you to peruse over.

17. You do realize that Han ethnicity is actually an umbrella term that includes several subgroups right? Have you heard of Hakka?Did you realize it’s Han Chinese too? And how many dialects are there in China? Did you realize Han Chinese groups discriminate against one another?
Godwin’s law at work here, everything has something to do with Hitler.

18. The 55-60 million Chinese who have left/fled China have an economic output roughly equivalent to China, indicating that the government is a burden on the people, not an enabler.

18. Population in China is 1.35 billion. If your claim is true, then diaspora Chinese has productive output of 20 mainland Chinese. This simply cannot be right. This means, diaspora Chinese alone has near GDP output of Japan, and surpassing that of Germany!!! Given that majority of Chinese diaspora live in SE Asia, how can this be right? And according to your statement, average Chinese diaspora is 2-3 times more productive than average American. What were you drinking when you made the claim? By that logic, if Chinese communist government were to disappear, China would have more GDP output than 2x the rest of world combined…

You are allowed to make your opinions about any nation, but just check up on your facts. Editors should do the same. As a reader of IEET for more than 3 years, it’s tad disappointing that so many factual inaccuracies are posted on my trusted website.

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