Monday, August 16, 2010

Required Rumbler Reading

Well, I hope the weekend was kind to all.  Down here in Rumblerville, we're suffering through a Gorean heat spell with the indexes topping the triple digits for multiple days.  Of course the Pravda on the Cumberland had the perfunctory article claiming the Gorean Oracle was right again...ignoring the fact that we also had one of the coldest winters in history this Yule past.  The sentient among us take it in stride and follow the old USMC axiom: adjust, adapt and overcome.  For this week's installment, I thought we would take a trip east.  There's much bally-hootin going on over China's passing the Land of the Rising Sun for the #2 slot in the world's let's take a closer look.

1. China Eclipses the Rising Sun:  This piece from the Financial Times is a good, straightforward analysis of the numbers.  It points out, sadly, that one of the reason for the overtaking - aside from sheer numbers, size, demographics etc., is the anemic Japanese recovery.  What has Japan been doing for the better part of the last fifteen years to get their economy going?  Massive government stimulus.  It doesn't work their either.

2. Hollow Talk in the South China Sea:  Mark Helprin's timely piece in the Wall Street Journal this morning points out the perils for our Navy in operating so far from home.

3. CIA Factbook - China:   No better place to browse to get the straight scoop.  As Sergeant Friday would say: "Just the facts, ma'am."  For comparison purposes, click here to see the CIA's line-up of the world's economies.

4. The Pentagon's Assessment:  If you want to know what our military brains think about the emergence of a modernized PLA, here it is...well the 2009 version of it.

5. Demographic Decline:  This is a link to an article about Japan's inevitable decline - demographics being destiny - but there's a chilling section in there about China:
Dr Kwan Chi Hung, a fellow at the Nomura Institute and a top China expert, said the long-term prospects for China were "horrible".

This analysis is consistent with the work done by the boys over at Stratfor - despite all the scary numbers, planes, bombs and guns they can produce now, there is a three-part fundamental problem for China: first, the rural/urban growth patterns are not promising.  Wealth is being accumulated along the coast...the inner sections of China are still barely out of the Stone Age.  Second, the ethnic split wherein less than 30% of the population, the Han Chinese control the rest...and as the economic disparity grows, the rest is going to want some of that.  Third, the demographic reality of declining birth rates and aging population.  All of this makes for a formidable threat - a wounded animal is far more dangerous than a healthy one.  We need to be nimble in our foreign policy and continue to strengthen alliances around the perimeter.

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