Why You Should Pivot to Asia
By [http://EzineArticles.com/expert/MC_Miller/2411397]MC Miller
It is amazing how in just over the past decade, since the 2008 Summer Olympics held in Beijing, China has become a buzzword, a topic for high-minded intellectual conversation, and as a topic for uncomfortable debate regarding national policy and economic forecasts throughout the Western world. Maybe it all began in 2011 with the US Secretary of State Clinton's Foreign Policy article, America's Pacific Century, followed then by US President Obama's so-called "Pivot to Asia", through which that administration sought to rebalance US foreign interests away from the Middle-East and toward its East Asian allies, as well as its potential economic and global power rivals, namely the People's Republic of China. This essay will peer beyond the smoke-screen of global power politics, military build-up, and regional border and maritime disputes, to an equally valid reason why the China-centric East Asian region has been a topic of great interest to the West, and exactly why YOU should consider allocating your time and resources, and perhaps even expatriate, to China. What is beyond that smoke screen of political concern? The Chinese economy in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has been growing at an average of approximately 10% since the early 1990s. This growth, coupled with the sheer size of the Chinese population, nearly one-fifth of the world's population, renders China an aggregate force necessary for outsiders to understand and attractive to those who are forward-thinking in their personal and career aspirations.
This author was born in the mid-1980s. To my parents' generation, China may still be perceived as a third-world country, with its geographic location, cultural peculiarities, and market realities, all still blurred with the images of its past. Whether it is by the deep red hue of communism, the iron wall of geopolitical enmity, or the unforgettable horrors captured in photographs from the famines and social upheavals wrought by policies of long-dead and infamous Chinese Communist Party leader Mao Zedong, China remains in the eyes of many in the West as a mildly exotic and mostly sketchy place, for which we have only the mainstream Western media to provide us with the bulk of our information. Well, Mao has been dead for more than 40 years. The Chinese Communist Party embraced foreign investment and limited market reform with haste, just a few years later. By the mid-1980s, the trajectory of the Chinese economy was notable. Over a billion smart, hard working people finally given some semblance of socioeconomic and legal stability did what they do best; they began striving in new and reformed industries, accumulating modest pools of wealth for their families and for the hopes of their posterity.
The mid-1980s was three decades ago. Much has happened since then, and until recently, the West's vision of China was so sullied by antiquated concepts that many viewed China's economic rise as a sudden wonder. Where was their attention placed before? Regardless of how the masses viewed China, it is clear that private industry and diplomatic missions took notice immediately. Foreign investment and expertise has been streaming into China ever since the 1980s. The tide has begun to crash on the shores of the West, however, most recently. Chinese investment is now pouring into a variety of sectors, particularly evident in English-speaking countries. We all must be familiar by now with one or more of these cases: investment immigration, such as that provided by the US government's EB-5; the Chinese Central Bank is holding unprecedented amounts of US Government Bonds; real estate markets across the West are experiencing an influx of Chinese cash, which bids up housing prices; and about a half-million Chinese students study abroad each year to make the most of foreign institutions of higher-learning, just to return to their homes within years, which illustrates that this is a population that is not fleeing a country, but rather gathering skills and resources from the outside for the continued growth of their homeland. The growth of the Chinese economy especially over the last decade is an undeniable miracle. Consequently, members of the West will continue to look on unflinchingly with awe, or they will accept the winds of change and become more integrated with the Asian economies, principally China.
These miracles have not happened by the merits of the Chinese alone. Foreign individuals and institutions have played a critical role in funding, educating, consulting, and bridging the gap generally for the Chinese in their transition into the world's largest economy. While this process of foreign investment, consulting, and foreign-based education has been steadily marching on for two decades, Chinese individuals and institutions are not decreasing in their interactions with foreigners. The difference now is that the direction of interaction is that of a more mutual, two-way street. In fact, in many facets, this trend is both growing in its scale and in its acuteness. The Chinese involvement with foreign institutions is becoming more standardized, robust, and integrated. While the English language has been a compulsory course in public schools during the middle and high school years for nearly two generations, most well-to-do parents are now sending their young children to private English training schools on the weekends. Instead of studying abroad for university, many families are choosing to send their children abroad for study at the start of high school, and some even earlier. Chinese companies are buying American brands, adding prestige to their portfolios while also hedging their company value with an asset denominated in a more stable, trusted currency, like the US Dollar. The above-mentioned are merely a few of thousands of examples of how the average middle-class Chinese person is affected by and affecting the global marketplace.
You might ask yourself, "why is this notable?" After all, Singapore and South Korea, for example, are two other Asian economies that have reached high-levels of integration globally and equally high levels of prosperity domestically in recent decades, with per-capita GDP much higher than that of their Chinese counterparts. The difference is that collectively those two political territories contain the same population, just over 50 million, as that of China's two largest cities combined, namely, Beijing and Shanghai. Framed another way, China's population is more than 400% larger than that of the United States. The American and Chinese economies are relatively equal in size as measured by GDP, and therefore the average Chinese is only one-fourth as productive as they average American when viewed by per-capita GDP. However, with American overall GDP growth registering considerably lower than that of the Chinese economy, about 70-80% lower, then it follows arithmetically that the Chinese economy, all things being equal, will begin to create distance from America economically. As a result of this rising relative economic importance over the world's other economies, China will continue gaining a strong leadership role in the global economy, and possibly leaving behind the Americans, much in the same manner that the American economy eclipsed the British and other European economies about a century ago.
Geopolitical concerns aside, xenophobia and chauvinism aside, what does this likely outcome mean for members of the West? The tough answer is that such an outcome could have great ramifications for members of the West, both positive and negative. Of course, its affect could also be completely innocuous. The extent to which the growth of Chinese and Asian influence on the world stage could be impactful for an American or a Brit is obviously contingent upon the industries playing greatest influence on any given individual. Regardless, a careful reflection on one's career path will answer that question. Pivoting to Asia, associating with the Chinese, and expatriating to the future's global economic-driving nations are all laudable positions for any member of the West with a vision to take proper advantage of the tides of economic and social change.
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