Friday, November 12, 2010

It's Not the Size That Counts...'s how you use it.

It seems like every day I have to read about how China is or is going to be the worlds largest whatever. Largest economy. Largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Largest collection of genius I.Qs. Largest buyer of cars. Largest internet user base. Largest collection of elite university professors. Largest space station. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Firstly, there is just far too much uncertainty in this world for any of these predictions to be reliable. I was just reading about the halting problem the other day (not there, but in Seth Lloyd's book). Likewise here, the only way we'll know what's going to happen is by waiting and seeing. I was watching Working Girl yesterday - great movie by the way- and a running theme through it was corporate takeover by Japanese firms. Yeah. I think Daikyo's had its day.

And yet every day we have to hear some whimpering politician talking about China taking its "rightful place", "ruling the world", that its "China's century". The repetition of these bromides really tries one's patience. Even if I was to put some faith in these predictions, I think to myself, who does this really affect? And what should we make of this?

Well, take things as they already are. China has a much bigger GDP than, say, Norway. It has bigger everything, probably.

But where would you rather be a local citizen? Oslo or Shanghai? I mean born and raised, not the expat lifestyle.

Listening to my Norwegian friends talk about growing up, and comparing it with what my Shanghainese friends tell me, at this stage Oslo sounds like a better choice. It might not be that way in the future- maybe Shanghai will be the envy of the world with regard to quality of life. Norway was very poor in the past. But my point here is that being the biggest really isn't something that would affect my decision in the slightest.


Paul said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul said...

Yes, interesting point CMW.

It's kind of interesting how the Japanese almost took over the world on cheap credit but ended up paying way over the odds for everything and the prices eventually reverted back to "reasonable" values.

The same is obviously going to happen with the Chinese. I just wonder what the catalyst/black swan/unexpected event will be that signals the end of the Chinese spreding spree abroad.

Guess we'll have to wait and see.

BTW I'd rather live in Norway than China.