Waiting for the collapse of the 'China collapse' prediction
For the past one month or so, my wife has been on a self-guided tour of Europe, visiting friends and scenic spots. She told me on the phone recently that she could not help but argue with her friends and new acquaintances when they tried to convince her that China would "collapse" in two to three years.
"Just laugh it off and argue no more. The friends don't have any ill will and are concerned about us, though they might have been influenced by what they hear, read and see (on TV and smartphones) each day," is how I tried to comfort her. Before retirement, my wife used to work for one of the top 100 foreign companies operating in China.
Her experience reminded me that some people in the West might have started spreading the absurd "China collapse" prediction while the Chinese people were busy combating the COVID-19 pandemic and recovering from the pandemic's impacts over the past three years.
The "China collapse" prediction is nothing new. It started with the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. Had the Western predictors been right, China should have collapsed after the Korean War (1950-53), or during the turbulent 1960s and 1970s, or after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, or after the Asian financial crisis in the 1990s.
In the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, triggered by the US subprime meltdown, the "China collapse" talk reached absurd levels. However, China not only survived the storm but also hosted the best-ever Summer Olympic Games that year.
Even if the predictors — evil-minded politicians, innocent and not-so innocent China observers and media outlets — can explain why their absurd prediction didn't come true, I suggest they be cautious when making new predictions about China, and gain a thorough understanding of Chinese tradition, culture and socialism with Chinese characteristics.
People should not analyze China's economy and society using Western criteria and then present their assumptions as fact-based forecasts. With a 5,000-year-long history and civilization and 2,000 years of unification, it is almost impossible for anyone with knowledge gathered from Western textbooks and/or by observing/studying the country for eight to 10 years to claim they know or understand China.
Despite having retired after working as a journalist for more than four decades, even I cannot claim to be a China expert. As for my wife, who too has retired and is not at all interested in politics, she was annoyed and tried to correct her friends and acquaintances when they started calling white black, and vice-versa.
To make a living, China experts have to present the results of their research and media outlets have to publish or telecast stories about China. As for politicians, they will do anything, fair and foul, which gets them votes.
Undergoing training as a journalist in the United States four decades ago, I still remember what my professor told the class: "Objectiveness is the life of the news media and of all journalists." I think that rule should apply to research fellows too.
How could the China experts reach the conclusion that China will collapse when it still had a GDP growth rate of more than 5 percent last year and the first eight months of this year while the major developed countries grew between zero and 3 percent?
How come Western media publish stories about "China collapse" even after the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund confirmed China remains the most powerful engine for the world growth?
And how come some Western politicians point their fingers at China, claiming it would soon collapse when international poll results for years have shown the Chinese government enjoys one of the highest citizens' approval ratings: a satisfactory rate of more than 90 percent among its citizens.
The Chinese people are too busy to talk about the "China collapse" prediction. They know better than others that they have some problems to address including the slowing economic growth, the Western sanctions against business entities, and corruption. In fact, effective measures have been taken to deal with the problems.
All that they have to do now is to work hard, enjoy life and wait for the collapse of the "China collapse" prediction — yet again.
The author is former deputy editor-in-chief of China Daily. [email protected]