Avoiding Competition

You catch that Fortune article -- You have 7 years to learn Mandarin -- about China surpassing the United States economically in seven years? Whether it's seven years or fifty doesn't really matter, I suppose, since people will be arguing about how to measure this for a while. And the measurements themselves are changing, it seems. How convenient. Whatever. I think it's cool either way because it offers new opportunities, and that´s what I´m after. In fact, aside from the word freedom, I can´t think of another word that describes Americans better than the word opportunity. Can you?

But Fortune seems defensive. We are supposed to "worry" about this, and we are told that American individuals "can avoid competition with Chinese workers by doing place-based work, which ranges in value from highly skilled (emergency-room surgery) to menial (pouring concrete). But the many people who do information-based work, which is most subject to competition, will have to get dramatically better to be worth what they cost. For government leaders: Improve U.S. education above all."

The first part of that paragraph is ridiculous. You can't "avoid competition" in a global economy, and I´m not "worrying" at all. Why not embrace the change as an opportunity? In fact, wouldn't be cool to live in China for a bit to check all this out first hand? Wouldn´t it be cool to learn some Chinese and interact with Chinese from their perspective for a while? I don´t see very many people in the US thinking this way about the rise of China (and India, for that matter, and some other emerging markets around the world, too). In fact, Sin-Yaw Wang has it right when he comments about the Fortune piece: "The new generation of business leaders, now in their 20s or 40s, must learn to do business in China and with Chinese. 7 years is not that long to master a language, especially when one is not even trying." I agree. And I´m reading this view (the not trying bit) over and over again. It´s defensive. Oh, well. I suppose that´s an opportunity for those who see it differently, right?
Comments:

[Trackback] Fortune magazine's Geoff Colvin agreed with economist Angus Maddison that by 2015, China will become the largest economy, supplanting the USA, of the world. That's 7 years from now. He noticed that the US supplanting then the largest economy only ...

Posted by Whiteboard infinity on May 11, 2008 at 04:17 PM JST #

Isn't is the case that the Chinese are busy learning English?

Posted by patrick giagnocavo on May 12, 2008 at 01:38 AM JST #

Yep. They are: http://blogs.sun.com/jimgris/entry/crazy_english_in_china But we westerners can help the communications effort by learning Chinese, too.

Posted by Jim Grisanzio on May 12, 2008 at 01:45 AM JST #

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