No one guessed that China’s total economic output would surpass Japan's.
Zaobao, Singapore; 27 August 2010
By Qi Xiniao; Translated By Matthew Hunter; Edited by Alex Brewer
30 years ago, no one would have guessed that there would come a day when China’s total economic output would surpass that of Japan. The Japanese economy took off after the World War II and on reaching its peak in the 1980’s, constituted a Pearl Harbour-esque threat to the U.S. economy. Although economic growth stalled somewhat in the 1990’s, Japan remained one of the idols that China’s economy bowed down before. |
Even today, many Chinese who have visited Japan express admiration for the precision of its management style. The operations style of the Japanese business world is even more of a model for mainland businesses. The creators of the Chinese financial market modeled it around the operation style of its Japanese counterpart.
It is precisely because China once looked up to the Japanese economic miracle that rumors of China’s economic output surpassing Japan’s have been met with widespread disbelief; even Chinese officials are taking a cautious attitude, and some are going as far as to consider such talk as an attempt by the West to provide China with the kind of pride that comes before a fall.
However, solid economic data shows otherwise. While Chinese per capita GDP and per capita income may still be well behind Japan’s, its total economic output has indeed surpassed that of Japan. For the person on the street, the figures are more pertinent still; these total economic output figures are significant for national strength since they indicate that the state’s tax base is expanding, allowing greater expenditure to improve education and military strength.
And yet, China’s total economic output having “surpassed the Japanese miracle” has a lot to do with the efforts of the current Chinese government. This is what lies behind the American media’s praise of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.
When America’s Newsweek recently selected ten widely respected world financial leaders, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao won praise as the leader most in tune with the plight of the people. Newsweek noted that he is called “Grandpa Wen” by the Chinese people, and is well known for his concern for the people; during the earthquake at Wenchuan two years ago, he wept, deeply pained, as he inspected the disaster area; during this month’s landslides at Zhouqu, in Gansu province, he again lent encouragement to those trapped by the disaster.
Newsweek is a highly influential media outlet in the U.S., and so for Newsweek to list Premier Wen as one of ten widely respected national leaders, and then to praise him as the most empathetic among them constitutes high commendation and generous praise.
This is not the first time the American media has praised Premier Wen. But this time, Newsweek’s praise embodies its recognition of the miracle of Chinese economic development.
Moreover, the American media’s praise of Wen has attracted the gaze of the Chinese people and sparked heated debate, and has increased the standing of the media in the Chinese public consciousness, laying the strategic foundations for an entry into the Chinese market in the distant future.
In addition, at a time when frequent joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises on the Korean Peninsula are taking place, American aircraft carriers are visiting Vietnam and interfering in the South China Sea dispute, and America planning to carry out joint military exercises in the waters off the Senkaku Islands and other such incidents are putting more strain on Sino-American relations than ever before, the decision by an important American media outlet to publish lists and articles in praise of Wen reveals a hidden agenda: to smooth Sino-American relations with a show of goodwill, and of course, to require China to assume greater international responsibility.