China by the Numbers

Sunday, November 20, 2005 | 07:43 AM

The Saturday WSJ has an interesting overview of China; Data junky and chart whore that I am, it it simply too much for me to pass up, even on a weekend:   

• China has about $1 trillion in personal savings and a savings rate of close to 50%. The U.S. has about $158 billion in personal savings and an average savings rate of only about 2%.

• Shanghai boasts 4,000 skyscrapers -- double the number in New York City. Still, 17% of the entire Chinese population lives on $1 a day. Only about 300 million people in China, or 23% of the population, are considered middle-class.

• Wal-Mart Stores bought $18 billion of goods from China last year. With China's annual exports amounting to $583 billion, that means Wal-Mart ranks as its eighth-largest trading partner, ahead of Australia, Canada and Russia.

• In China, the 40-richest people are worth a collective $26 billion, up from $18 billion last year. China has 10 billionaires, up from three last year. The richest person is Larry Rong Zhijian of CITIC Pacific Group, who is worth $1.64 billion, according to Forbes magazine.

• China has 100 million Internet users, second to the U.S.'s 135 million users. In September, there were 62 people jailed for violating Chinese Internet laws, up from three in 2001. The word 'democracy' is banned in online chat rooms.

• Over the past decade, Russia and Israel have been China's main foreign sources of weapon systems and military technology. Russia has supplied more than 85% of all of China's arms imports since early 1990, the Pentagon says.

Here's a graphical depiction of China's increasing economic might:
click for larger graph


graphic courtesy of WSJ
(If you still don't haven't access to the online WSJ, what the hell are you waiting for?)

This mighty looking set of data does not mean China is somehow immune from a global slowdown. If anything, the Communist Central Planners have historically not done well in response to a crisis or slowing economy when they were an agrarian nation. 

As a newly formed industrial power, it would take even more finesse to manueveur through a global decelleration.

If only a modestly negative scenario unfolds, I don't think the Commies Central Planners can avoid a hard landing. And in the event of a dramatic economic crash, all bets are off.

China: Engagement or Containment?
November 19, 2005; Page A5

Sunday, November 20, 2005 | 07:43 AM | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0) add to | digg digg this! | technorati add to technorati | email email this post



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Not saying that the 21st Century won't ultimately become "the China Century" much as the 20th was the "American Century", but China is setting up for a whopper of a crash.

This volatile mix of extreme growth, wildcat finance, opaque governance and economic accountability, and authoritarian government is a witch's brew.

Don't know how or why it will happen. Really doesn't matter. May only take the flutter of a butterfly's wings. When the time is right, it will occur.

Maybe the Beijing Olympics will be 21st C equivalent of the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Can't imagine the Chinese govt will let things fall apart before their global "coming out party."

But after 2008, all bets are off. I imagine Taiwan will be at the center of whatever chaos is coming. That situation is ripening by the minute.

Posted by: angryinch | Nov 20, 2005 1:15:45 PM

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