Dennis D. McDonald ( consults from Alexandria Virginia. His services include writing & research, proposal development, and project management.

China as Manufacturer to the World ... and Beyond

By Dennis D. McDonald

Author James Fallows, who lives in China,  was a guest on NPR’s Fresh Air on October 30.  He discussed aspects of his Atlantic Monthly article China Makes, The World Takes.

In that article he writes about many topics, for example:

  1. China’s manufacturing might.
  2. Its rough-and-tumble business and intellectual policy practices.
  3. How China compares to Western countries that went though industrialization in the 19th century.
  4. China’s rural to urban migration.
  5. The importance placed on keeping supply chains confidential.
  6. The ability of Chinese factories to move more quickly and adjust processes faster than their Western counterparts.
  7. How we have exported much of our industrial pollution to China.
  8. China’s attempts to reduce reliance on low paying manufacturing jobs by bringing higher-value jobs to China.
  9. The differences between Japan’s and China’s industrial economies.

One of his most interesting comments regards U.S. openness to people coming to the U.S. to study:

(I might as well say this in every article I write from overseas: The easier America makes it for talented foreigners to work and study there, the richer, more powerful, and more respected America will be. America’s ability to absorb the world’s talent is the crucial advantage no other culture can match—as long as America doesn’t forfeit this advantage with visa rules written mainly out of fear.)

Reading this also article helped me understand why China insists on advancing its own space program. Bringing back rocks from the moon doesn’t sound like something that will advance human knowledge. It might just serve to point out to the rest of the world that the U.S. already did stuff like that a long time ago.

Viewed in the light of a desire to advance the educational, scientific, and engineering talent pool within China, a moon program makes sense, as does China’s desire to become involved with the International Space Station project. The Space Race did wonderful things for the United States’ educational and research establishments, and China might be looking at that as a possible model for its own economy.

Having some modest experience of my own with working in China, I would hope that we can figure out ways to participate with China in such high tech ventures. As Fallows points out in his article, the West and the Chinese people have both benefited from China’a rapid industrialization and manufacturing development. Perhaps joint space exploration ventures will prove to be an area of partnership that will also provide mutual benefits.

For example, I think it would be insane for the United States to attempt a Mars expedition and landing on its own. Not only will the costs of a Mars landing be prohibitive, but it also just make sense for me that such grandiose human adventures should be based on international cooperation.


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