During the first decade of the 21st, The phrase “The Chinese Economic Miracle “entered into the daily vernacular in the halls of board rooms, banks, governments, and exercise gyms. And who would say nay?
Stratospheric GDP growth year after year, Chinese peasants by the tens of millions streaming in from the countryside to fill the workforce requirements of massive new factories, to fill the massive cargo ships that steamed to the far reaches of the globe to fill the massive demand for cheaper consumer goods for a prosperous globe on a buying binge. And the skyscrapers…wow!
Somewhere around the middle of that first delirious decade, there were some estimates that 25% of all the worlds tall construction cranes were in Shanghai itself. Huge infrastructure projects seemed to suddenly spring up everywhere in China, much of it along the major economic growth areas of China’s southeast coast and along its fabled major rivers. There was the Three Gorges Dam, the biggest public works of its kind since the Great Wall, which began to supply mega watts of power to the burgeoning mega-sized factories. And even as the dam began to tame the Yangtze River, Chinese leaders began to fret how they were to tame the rising expectations of a population of an increasingly prosperous and world wide web informed young people.
By the way, as you read this, when was the last time you heard about the Chinese Economic Miracle? It seems like only yesterday when the Kaupthing Bank in Reykjavik, Iceland, a mere monetary flea, took a bite out of the back of the global economic elephant and spooking it even more to stampede through the paper-filled vaults of the world’s banking empires.
In a scene right out of the Wizard of Oz, the panicked populous turned to the wizard behind the walls of the Forbidden City. Surely those wizards could calm the markets and showcase how Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics would take over the reins of the stampeding herds and infuse the world with renewed hope and prosperity. Only when the bamboo curtains were ruffled by events such as the fall of Bo Xilai as his wifewho was convicted of murdering a British citizen, did the world get a glimpse of the men pulling the levers of power. Thus did a deflated and demoralized populous see that much of a seemingly revealed truth of a new economic theorem based on Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics but was actually Capitalism with Human Characteristics, with its ageless temptations of greed and corruption.
Corruption. There’s that word again. Its not to say that the Chinese nor their leaders in China have a monopoly on this word, but simply to point out by the following examples how, by some book keeping slight of hand and a few distracting economic statistical movements, a world audience can become mesmerized by the glitter and ignore the rising smell of the garbage accumulating behind that bamboo curtain.