I stand in the center window of my room on the 24th floor of the JC Mandarin hotel and gaze in utter amazement at the Shanghai skyline that surrounds me. A sea of skyscrapers, both old and new, hug one another for as far as the eye can see. It has not always been this way.
It has been 10 years since my last visit to China. I still have vivid memories of that trip and the excursions taken at that time in the towns and villages near Shanghai. At that time the area was just starting to undergo a transformation of radical proportions. The government had a master plan in place to modernize the metropolitan area and develop a hub for worldwide business and commerce.
At that time smokestack manufacturing locations and shantytowns were in abundance throughout the entire area. Old cars, trucks and motor scooters belched foul exhaust fumes that melded with whatever found its way from the smokestacks. A trip to the outskirts of the city led to farmland that covered the horizon.
That was the reality some ten years ago. Not anymore. No, in fact all that remains of that time is the city’s name. This “new’ Shanghai this “new” China is well beyond anything I could have imagined or expected. I know where all of America’s wealth has gone. The owners of our debt have indeed invested wisely in their nation, cities and towns.
For the past few days I have travelled several hundred kilometers from Shanghai to Nantong, Jiangsu City and Yizheng. I have listened to the new industrialists, the “neuveau China rich” tell their stories of success. They tell of a government who closed down old and polluting factories in Shanghai and told the owners to move to the “new” industrial centers that have become magnets of new business and residential areas.
Success abounds in all that the eye can see. The freeways are laden with Audi A6’s that speed past the lorries laden with industrial production. I see more new Buick's on the roads that I ever see at home. The roads have been designed to handle huge volumes of traffic—and they do. All manner of magnificent infrastructure abounds to support the rolling masses.
Old village streets have been replaced with wide boulevards that stretch as far and straight as the eye can see. People move with the wild abandon of a nation undergoing a massive transformation to the delight of most. Oh how they spend our money well.
I am completely taken with the enormous amount of housing already built and being built. Twenty story residential structures dot the landscape for mile upon mile as this country provides for the residential needs of its people. No single family home style here. Living quarters start at the ground level and go up—up—and up.
One can sense an excitement amongst the masses. They understand that their present has radically changed for the better and their future is indeed very bright. They believe and support their government that has wisely converted our dollars and our future into a Chinese miracle.
I am a simple man and of simple mind. Yet what I have seen in these days serves to slap me in the face. Our reality is that we will continue to finance this economic juggernaut for the foreseeable future. Our children would be wise to understand the Chinese culture and speak the language. Have no doubt they understand ours---and spend our dollars wisely.
On Sunday the United States and South Korea will begin joint naval exercises in the Yellow Sea. China is not all pleased with all of this. Last week in the online edition of the People’s Daily, Maj.Gen. Luo Yuan, a deputy secretary general suggested: “In history, foreign invaders repeatedly took the Yellow Sea as an entrance to enter the heartland of Beijing and Tianjin.” He also quoted a saying from Mao: “We will never allow others to keep snoring beside our beds.” Is it really a good idea to piss off the keeper of our debt?
I will leave this mighty land on Saturday and return home. I will take with me a sense of awe that can only come from a firsthand look at this economic dynamo. I will suggest to all that we, as Americans, must quickly forgo all sense of entitlement and get back to the hard work, grit, and desire to create that what collectively made us what we “were!”
Not to do so will be a mistake that, in the long term, might forever lower our status in the global community and change all that we hold so near and dear. I, by nature, am not an alarmist. Yet, I am alarmed by all of this.
Seeing my friends…..is believing and I have no doubt of what I saw.
I have also been very careful not to snore all week.
China my friends—Makes Dust!