Like any experienced journalist, Kynge knows the real story about something as phenomenal as China rising to the #2 position in the world's economic order is hypercompetive entrepreneurs. Individuals. Kynge puts in the shoe-leather time and his interviews take him to such unexpected places as Prato, Italy, where an immigrant Chinese population (numbering some 20,000) has taken over and vanquished a world-renowned, local textile industry. The Chinese did this by simply outworking everyone in their host country.
Kynge shows the displacement is complete when everything gets outsourced to China. A Chinese entrepreneur buys a marginal German steel mill, sends in an army of Chinese workers to disassemble down to the last bolt, then ship it all back to China, where the reassembled plant succeeds in a highly competitive world market.
Sometimes the Chinese can't get the techology transfer they want by "joint venturing" with Western corporations. That doesn't stop them from, as Kynge points out, reverse-engineering a Volkswagen Jetta and manufacturing the equivalent quality car at a third the price. U.S. exports of the Chery are forthcoming.
The insights that savvy journalist Kynge offers are numerous, but one of his "connect-the-dots" moments is unforgettable.
China's voracious manufacturing appetite for scrap metal has driven prices sky high. As Kynge writes, 'For me, this new trend reached its crescendo in the several weeks beginning in mid-February 2004, when, slowly at first but with mounting velocity, manhole covers started to disappear from roads and pavements around the world." Yes, in the dead of night these iron covers were levered up, sawn, and loaded on ships bound for China!
Read China Shakes the World for a compelling portrait of a nation on a mission to become top dog among the world's economies.
China Shakes the World by James Kynge. Houghton Mifflin, Boston, New York, 2006. 270 pp. ISBN: 978-0-618-70564-1.
Image credit: google images: amazon.com
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