For many decades in the late 20th century, many outstanding young Asians went to the West to pursue their higher education, to learn more advanced knowledge and in search of better job opportunities upon graduation.
While the West continues to lead the world today in many key areas of technology and advanced knowledge creation, China is catching up quickly - conditions have changed and opportunities for study and work are opening up in many parts of China. In the light of the recent financial crisis and the global recession, the more mature economies of the West are experiencing slowing growth and opportunities for gainful employment. This has prompted many young Westerners coming East to build their lives and careers.
In the last few years, the growth center of the world has been shifting towards Asia with China at the epicenter. This megatrend is evidenced by strong foreign investment flows to Asia and China. Visionary business leaders and entrepreneurs are seeking opportunities to grow their businesses in the newly opened emerging markets of China. One scholar observed that never has there been so many different nationalities and races converging in one single nation at the same time to participate in its modernization. This is what is so exciting about the New China.
For young people, it makes sense to gain knowledge on contemporary China as this knowledge will serve them well in their careers and in their lives that will be so different from the world of their parents, with China playing such an important role in the Brave New World. Mastering Hanyu, studying, working and living in China for some time will help them understand and appreciate the dynamics of the Chinese culture, and hopefully learn to decode the cultural DNA of this one quarter of the world’s humanity.
CHINA: HIGH GROWTH, HIGH NEEDS
By 2008, China had completed 3 decades of reform and opening. The changes brought about by this remarkable transformation include the following:
||The Chinese economy is the second largest in the world after the USA with a GDP of USD7.8 trillion (2008) when measured on a purchasing power parity basis. It has been the fasted growing nation for the past 35 years with an annual GDP growth rate of more than 10%. Over the last 3 decades, its per capita income has grown at an average rate of more than 8% to USD 5,300 by 2008 (based on PPP), drastically reducing poverty from 53% in 1981 to 8% in 2001 and increasing China’s middle class.
||China’s economy grew at an average of 10% per year during the 1990 - 2004 period, the highest growth rate in the world. GDP grew 10% in 2003,
10.1% in 2004 and 10.4% in 2005 despite government attempts to cool the economy. From 1978 to 2008 China’s share of the global economy grew from 1% to more than 4% whilst foreign trade grew from USD 20.6 billion in 1978 to USD 45 billion in 1997. By 2006, China’s total trade surpassed USD 1.76 trillion, making China the world’s third largest trading nation after USA and Germany.
In 2003, the statistics show that of the 114,660 Chinese students who departed to study abroad, 104,281were self financed. The increasing number of self financed Chinese students overseas points to the rise of the per capita and the affordability of overseas education where once it was unheard of unless through government sponsorship. In 2004, there were a total of 617,000 students studying abroad. 150,000 students leave the country each year to earn a degree. About 90% are self financed.
Within a decade (1992-2002), education expenditure grew from USD 6 billion to USD 42 billion and continues to grow rapidly.
||World Bank statistics show that China is the world’s leading recipient of foreign direct investment receiving more than USD80 billion in 2005 and USD 69.47 billion by 2006. By then, the total stock of direct foreign investment in China alone amounted to USD 699.5 billion with many FDI-led investments in manufacturing proliferating in the more than 6,000 industrial parks in China. Together with the recent Chinese government announcement of the injection of RMB 4 trillion public spending to create jobs and improve infrastructure following the global economic downturn, China’s total foreign direct investment and domestic non public investment exceeds USD 1 trillion.
||China became the 3rd most popular tourist destination in the world receiving 91.7 million tourists in 2003. In 2002, domestic tourists reached 878 million and the revenue from China’s tourism industry reached USD 67.3 billion, accounting for 5.44% of the GDP. WTO forecast that China’s tourism industry will account for up to 8.6% of the world market share to become the world’s top tourism industry by 2020.
||Strong Foreign Reserves: China's foreign reserves exceeded USD 800 billion in 2005, more than doubling from 2003, reaching USD 1.066 trillion at the end of 2006 andUSD 1.9 trillion by June 2008. By Sept 2008, China’s foreign reserves surpassed that of Japan’s making China’s foreign reserves the largest in the world. The RenMinBi continues to strengthen as international money flows continuously flows into China.
||From having very scarce telecom services, China has seen a surge in mobile phone users. In 2006, mobile phone users sent 429 billion text messages or an average of 967 messages per user; and, from starting with just 100 internet users, internet users increased to 10 million by 1997 and topped 137 million by 2006.
||When completed in 2015, the National Trunk Highway System (NTHS) which now has 10,0000 km of trunk highways in operation will have a total of 35,000 km of toll highways and expressways at a cost of USD 150 billion. By 2010, China will have expanded its railway lines to 100,000 km.
The economic and structural changes set in motion by Deng Xiao Peng's open market reforms are changing China and indeed, the world. China’s current high growth trends are expected to continue. Robust growth will bring forth new ideas, new technologies and new business models, pioneered by the Chinese and the hundreds of thousands of enterprising business leaders and managers from over 100 countries around the world – all participating in the modernization of China. China will set new trends and be a leader in many aspects of modern life in the foreseeable future.
China is expected to continue growing and developing at a fast pace. Today, China is already the most important industrial production center in the world. It is also an important consumer market. It commands the highest foreign reserves amongst the nations of the world. Today, China is the world's 2nd largest economy, and by 2030, it will once again take its place as one of the world’s major economic powers with the greatest potential.