Seven ways China might surprise us in 2009
The country could yet again change the way the world sees it. Here’s a shortlist of realistic possibilities.
How will China surprise us next? Shocks, tipping points, and revelations have
become basic staples of the world’s daily news diet. But with so many eyes now on this emerging Asian giant,what happens there continues to have an exceptional ability to draw attention and to shift perceptions drastically and suddenly. Will the surprise be planned, like the magnificent Beijing Olympics Games,whose nearly flawless execution set a counterpoint to China’s image as an economic laggard buoyed mainly by cheap labor? Will it repel, like the tainted-milk scandal? Or will it send a message, asLenovo’s takeover of IBM’s personal-computer business did in serving notice that Chinese companies were ready to enter the global fray? Here’s a list of some realistic possibilities for the next year.Will all of them come to pass? I doubt it. But any one of them could, and each might make us see China and it s future in a new light. What do you think? China announces that by 2020, half of the carsin the country will be electric. It invests tens of billions of dollars in R&D toward achieving that goal. Such a move could make China the leader in the automotive technology of the future, withother countries struggling to keep pace. Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) or newcomer BYD Auto could become the Ford Motor of the 21st century, propelled by a new technology—much as Fordcapitalized on the internal-combustion engine at the start of the 20th century. The Chinese government buys a 50-year lease on an entire geographic region of Mexico, enabling Chinese companies to buildfactories there to supply the North American market more easily. Chinese companies would then become the undisputed leaders in outsourced production. No longer constrained by geography, they could...