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China Rises

I came across an item, written by Jared Diamond, on the New York Times website recently.  Although it was a few years old, it struck me that if it was correct then it is probably as relevant now as when it was written.  Just to satisfy my curiosity I looked further and sure enough dug up more items which fitted in with the first.  Of these the most notable is an article written by Michael Pettis on his blog, China Financial Markets, entitled The difficult arithmetic of Chinese consumption, published a little later in 2009. In essence most of these articles  talk about the rise in consumption of China, of the problems which may arise from this and how they should be dealt with, but looking at the figures used I couldn’t help wonder if they were not looking at the situation the wrong way round.

Let me explain what I mean.  In 2008 the gross domestic consumption of the PRC [Peoples Republic of China] was $1.2 trillion – that is, two digits followed by eleven zeroes. By comparison consumption in the UK [United Kingdom] in the same year was $1.4 trillion and in the US [United States of America] was $9.4 trillion.  All big numbers to get your head around.  So it seems that Britain consumed slightly more than China but quite a lot less than the US, but then that is a bigger and more wealthy country.  But are these reasonable comparisons?  If, instead of using total consumption, we compare consumption per person possibly we might have a more reasonable figure to look at, after all there are substantial differences in population; 1,300 million, 304 million and 60 million for the PRC, US and UK respectively.  After dividing the figures these are the rates per capita for the year 2008  –

PRC     $923

UK       $23,333

US       $30,921

Think about it for a moment.  On average a British citizen consumes 25 times as much and a US citizen 33 times as much as the average person in China.  This may not sound much of a difference when compared with, for instance, the income of the wealthiest family in Britain with the poorest family but these are averages, not extremes.

For a moment let’s turn the situation on its head.  If the rate of consumption in China were the same as that in the UK it could only support a population of 51,428,571 and if it were the same as in the US the population would be only 38,808,510.  How does that compare with the present PRC population of 1,300,000,000?

Turning the figures round yet again and dividing the total consumption of the UK and the US by the consumption rate of China will give us some idea of how many people can be [financially] supported in these two countries – in Britain 1,516,666,666 Chinese consumers and the US 10,183,332,484 Chinese consumers.  These figures are nonsense, of course, as they represent more people than live in the entire world and more than the whole world can probably support –  but what if certain countries decided they wanted to live as we do?

I think you get my point, that with such a huge disparity between countries we cannot expect to continue, unchallenged, living such an extravagant lifestyle as we do now.  Sooner or later our standard of living will change. Downwards.  As to what the answer is, invade their countries [again], nuke the buggers, or bring a bit of moderation and realism to the western world, who knows,  that’s a question for the political leaders and experts to decide.

Related posts – “Future Masters

Here’s some really important health information – especially good at this time of the year!

Q: I’ve heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life. Is this true?

A: Your heart is only good for so many beats, and that’s it…don’t waste them on exercise. Everything wears out eventually. Speeding up your heart will not make you live longer; that’s like saying you can extend the life of your car by driving it faster. Want to live longer? Take a nap.

Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruit and vegetables?

A: You must grasp logistical efficiencies. What does a cow eat? Hay and corn. And what are these? Vegetables. So a steak is nothing more than an efficient mechanism for delivering vegetables to your system. Need grain? Eat chicken. Sheep are a good source of field grass (leafy green vegetable). And a pork chop can give you 100% of your recommended daily intake of vegetable products.

Q: Is beer or wine bad for me?

A: Look, it goes back to the earlier point about fruits and vegetables. As we all know, scientists divide everything in the world into three categories: animal, mineral, and vegetable. We all know that beer and wine are not animal or mineral, so that only leaves one thing, right? My advice: Have a burger and a beer and enjoy your vegetables.

Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?

A: Well, if you have a body, and you have body fat, your ratio is one to one. If you have two bodies, your ratio is two to one, etc.

Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?

A: Can’t think of a single one, sorry. My philosophy is: ‘No Pain…Great’.

Q: Aren’t fried foods bad for you?

A: You’re not listening. These days foods are fried in vegetable oil. In fact, they’re permeated in it. How could getting more vegetables be bad for you?

Q: What’s the secret to healthy eating?

A: Thicker gravy.

Q: Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?

A: Definitely not! When you exercise a muscle, it gets bigger. You should only be doing sit-ups if you want a bigger stomach.

Q: Is chocolate bad for me?

A: Are you crazy? HELLO …… Cocoa beans .. another vegetable!!! It’s the best feel-good food around!

Well, I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food and diets. Now go and have a biscuit……..flour comes from wheat, which is a veggie!

Finally; if swimming is good for your figure, explain whales to me.

Oh, and one more thing… “When life hands you lemons, ask for tequila and salt.”

Global warming, the evidence.

Here is the ultimate, irrefutable proof of global warming.

No favour

An interesting article in The Guardian newspaper here. Just cast your mind back to the fuss over Sharon Stone’s comments, the storm in a teacup over the tea stains advert, the fiasco of the poster showing Tibetan monks on a rollercoaster, and a few other recent ‘insults’ to the Chinese nation. In every instance someone apologised unreservedly for each of these slurs against the Middle Kingdom and there was some kind of step-down – but why? Ms Stone’s comments were foolish, but did they matter? She is an actress not an intellect; did anyone genuinely expect intelligent comment? The slogan used by Procter and Gamble to advertise their Ariel detergent employed an idiom commonly used in English, ‘all the teas in China’, which somehow came to be seen as an insult to China. And the [mis]interpretation dreamt up by the Chinese blogger who stirred the brown stuff to set off the furore over the Coca-Cola poster is so stunningly far-fetched it borders on the surreal. Isn’t it time this great nation learned to accept that not everyone in the world is going to say nice things about it, that not every reference to ‘China’ amounts to a slight upon their motherland and, most important of all, learn to discriminate between trivia and serious comment?

Ma Jian argues that constantly apologising is not the way to deal with these over-reactions. According to the teachings of Kongzi there are three types of good friends and three types of not so good friends and Ma argues we are rapidly setting ourselves amongst the unreliable ones, but that is only part of the story. Not only are we pandering to a bunch of over-sensitive, nationalist halfwits but we are doing ourselves even fewer favours by encouraging them to become ever more vociferous and demanding. By repeatedly telling them, in effect, that we are wrong and then giving in to their demands are we not making future dealings with the Chinese people, and government, more difficult? If there was some truth in the complaints made an apology or change of stance would be in order but that has not been the case, and caving in to hysteria does no-one any good.

As a general rule people, and governments, respect those who are honest, they have more respect for those who are strong and more still for those both honest and strong. The Chinese people and government have the right to hold their own views on the world, about everything from the cosmos down to which is the best football team, and they also have the right to know that there are other viewpoints in existence in the world but must accept that not all of them are parallel with their own. If they are to regard us with respect, just as we should with them, there has to be a reason for that but our present kow-towing is not it.

The PRC government has a point when it says that it is unacceptable for outsiders to interfere with matters which are purely internal to another nation – and by that I mean no-one has any more right to dictate what sort of posters are pinned on hoardings in other countries than they have to dictate what colour socks we wear.

Related posts: The Hurt Feelings Of The Chinese on China Rises

"Murder In Samarkand"


This is not exactly a ‘hot off the blogosphere’ posting as the book I have just completed reading was published several years ago. However, the lessons to be learned are as horrifying and as relevant now as they were in 2006. Just as Mr Murray states in his book many of us believed that being British came with certain values, fairness, justice, protecting the vulnerable and standing up to the bullies for instance. In the past we haven’t always managed to live up to these ideals but we tried. Now it seems that these things no longer matter, at least to our government, as it supports despots, accepts torture as an acceptable method of obtaining ‘intelligence’ [it made an attempt to get this idea on to the statute book only a few years ago, the only thing which stopped it was a group of Law Lords], repeatedly suppresses the truth and uses fabricated evidence to justify actions or achieve other ends. Does this sound like something good that you would want to tell your international friends about? If you want some insight into the way our government [and I cannot stress ‘OUR’ enough] is going and why, then reading this book ‘Murder in Samarkand’ is a must.

While not everyone would approve of Craig Murray’s personal behaviour it is hard to see how anyone who believes in the truth can ignore story as it demonstrates how spin, convenience, expediency and the lack of truth have permeated our government.

In the early days of his posting his first concerns were to raise the profile of the British Embassy in Uzbekistan and make it better known amongst the British businesses which were attempting to operate there and achieved considerable success in this area. However, it was not long before he began to come across signs of corruption within the country and his attention was absorbed by other matters. This was bad enough but the most disturbing facet of this episode was the cold silence of the Foreign Office to his reports. In time the silence became more active and attempted to shut him up. The British government were following that of USA who were propping up the dictatorship in Uzbekistan as a partner in their War on Terror; it was therefore up to the Ambassador to keep relations sweet and avoid anything less pleasant. Truth simply didn’t matter. This conspiracy to silence existed all the way to the very highest levels of the Foreign Office, allegedly including the Secretary of State himself. During Mr Murray’s time in Uzbekistan the American government was running its Extraordinary Renditions programme, shipping arrested people to secret places around the world, one of which was Uzbekistan and, it is alleged, our government had an active part of this process. This is a story of cynicism, cruelty, terror, torture and murder and involves the author in several close and unnerving encounters of his own. If this were a thriller it would certainly sell well, but this is not fiction. If you want to see just how much politicians are prepared to debase themselves and the values of their country, read this.

Craig Murray is now the Rector of Dundee University.