This book focuses on the economic development of China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. It opens with Chinese workers dismantling a German steel factory and transmitting it whole to China. There will also be a description of how Chinese workers and enterprisers enter the Italian textile center of Prato and provide first an economic boom, and then a threat to its existence. The book is filled with pictures of gigantic Chinese economic projects and development. The subtitle of the book 'The Rise of a Hungry Nation' hints at the tremendous appetite China is diplaying for every kind of product and industry. The upside of this is as Kynge writes the removal of four- hundred million people from poverty, the rise of a more urban China in which there is greater opportunity for work and education for great masses of people. Kynge also argues in the book that Chinese trading, the growth of its economy has been good for the world- economy in certain ways. The seven- hundred billion dollars the Chinese hold in Treasury Bonds , Kynge claims, sustain the American economy.
The downside however is great indeed. The picture Kynge gives of China is too of a vast polluted, corrupt , hungry nation in which there are no legal bars to any kind of activity. It is a nation in which the illegal or grey economy is at least a third of the whole. It is a nation which engages in piracy outright of all kinds of intellectual property. It is of course still politcally unfree, a Communist state in name and doctrine which on the one side promotes and teaches friendship with the world while also providing xenophobic education to its children.
Many have spoken about the twenty- first century as the century of China. Kynge says that by 2040 China will have a larger economy than the American one. But what strikes me is how poor in certain ways the great Chinese expansion is.
The U.S. in becoming the most prosperous nation in the world gave mankind a dream. It was a dream of personal freedom and opportunity. And it was too a dream of political liberty for all of mankind. There was a beauty in the American vision, something sublime and great .
The Chinese rise seems to be a rise of the belly alone. China is hungry for learning also , and Kynge does speak about the expansion of its universities, and the opportunities given for Chinese to learn abroad. But basically the Chinese activity does seem more like a response to 'hunger' a natural- need unrelated and unconnected to any gift or blessing to the rest of mankind.
There is another dimension of this. The rise of China and also of India the rise of the masses of mankind into higher levels of technological competence is also more pressure on dwindling natural resources, oil, water, even air.
I may be completely wrong, but it thus seems to me that the rise of China, at least as described in this book, is a real potential source of problems for mankind.