Fifteen years from now, China will have more citizens over 65 than America has, and this aging of the Chinese people, dramatically accelerated by the cruel and stupid social policies of the 1950s and 1960s, has already plunged into an abrupt and unmanageable decline. In addition, China lacks financial resources to cushion this labor shock. When Japan and the United States faced an aging population, these countries had a GDP per capita of around $ 15,000. China’s per capita GDP today is around $ 4,000.
Things are not rosy in China, and it is time to take a serious look at China’s problems.
Timothy Beardson is a legend among expatriate financial entrepreneurs in Hong Kong. A permanent resident of Hong Kong for many decades, he was the founder of Crosby Financial Holdings, which he incorporated in 1984. Beardson’s vast investment banking empire employed 700 people in seventeen cities in 14 countries, with operations stretching from Beijing to New York. processing some $ 20 billion in annual sales.
Having accumulated dynastic wealth for himself and his heirs, Timothy Beardson retired Crosby in the late 1990s. He has now turned to writing and Yale University Press has just published his Stumbling giant, threats to China’s future. It’s a book that no one interested in China can afford to ignore, as Beardson speaks with the kind of authority that is rarely found in this part of the world: the authority of the one who has. worked within the system rather than just observing it from the halls of a university or a newsroom.
Beardson’s thesis is easy to sum up in one sentence: it’s simply that, unlike much of the hype, China will almost certainly not overtake the United States as the world’s leading power in the 21st century, because it faces insurmountable problems.
Although Beardson’s ideas appear to have sparked a firestorm in Europe and America, where unfounded myths about Chinese growth and power have been promulgated by the popular media, they are unlikely to shock any serious observer in Beijing or Hong. Kong. Indeed, it is clear to us here in Hong Kong that China does not suffer from any secret or mysterious illnesses. China’s problems are there for everyone to see, and maybe Beardson’s real point is that no one is looking hard enough to see them.
Here are the main obstacles that China will face in the coming decades: The disastrous one-child policy of the Mao period created a shrinking workforce and an aging population, coupled with gender inequality. which devalues women to an almost unimaginable degree. Mix that with catastrophic environmental degradation, a dangerous environment of radical Islam lurking around its borders, a dwindling supply of clean water, an academic and business culture that seems culturally incapable of real innovation. , a grossly inadequate social safety net, a system of government that seems dated and sclerotic, and a predominantly low-tech economy, and you will quickly understand that China is far from becoming a serious economic, military or cultural rival to Europe. or America. On the contrary. China is falling behind.
Yet amid the inventory of these shocking weaknesses, Timothy Beardson also manages to paint a realistic and personal picture of China’s magnificent history, its integrity as a nation, and its significant achievements over the millennia. Having learned his lessons the hard way (by losing money when he was wrong), Beardson is more interested in hard analytical evaluations than he is in the kind of pabulum one gets too often in magazines. and newspapers.
Perhaps even more devastating than the historical roots of China’s problems are the utter inadequacy of current policy responses. China is infamous for its five-year plans, but in Beardson’s opinion, no one atop the Forbidden City is seriously charting a way out of this forest of trouble.
This book is much needed. So many recent articles have heralded China’s rise to world supremacy that many casual observers have started to believe the myth. Beardson crushes these wildly flawed predictions. China will have to face its formidable challenges, their weight and their numbers, before it can achieve anything like its so-called ambition to become “Number One”.
Shameless views of China’s impending and spectacular success may have been encouraged by the 2008 financial collapse, which led many experts to suggest that Europe and the United States had peaked and perhaps even reached a point of inflection leading to the downside, and that China was zooming in not only catching up but overtaking the West. It won’t happen – not today, not tomorrow, not anytime in the foreseeable future.