China is in a state of perpetual change. In the 20th century alone, the country experienced communism and capitalism, isolationism and foreign occupation, dictators and presidents, war and peace, depression and prosperity. Though the turmoil of the early 1900s has settled down, the Middle Kingdom is still on the move, evolving day by day. It's impossible to foresee exactly what will happen, but it's clear that certain things are susceptible to disappear within the next 10 years.
1) Made in China
It's everywhere, but that doesn't necessarily mean the infamous "Made in China" tag will be around forever. China is the world's manufacturing capital because it has an enormous labor force willing to work for cheap. This low production cost allows Chinese goods to be sold at a lower price and attracts foreign companies to outsource and manufacture in China because cheap labor increases company earnings. But as author Shaun Rein argues in his latest book "End of Cheap China," the country's cheap labor pool is evaporating quickly. Since the Chinese economy is growing and jobs are no longer as scarce as they were in the previous decades, the average Chinese worker is demanding higher pay; something that increases China's labor cost and diminishes its competitive advantage.
Last November, 1,000 workers went on strike at a Taiwanese-owned computer parts company over unpaid overtime wages in Shenzhen. The same month, 7,000 workers went on strike over wage disputes at a Hong Kong shoe factory in Dongguan. In fact, Christian Science Monitor recently predicted that by 2015 Chinese wages will be so high that it will be just as cheap for companies to manufacture goods for the American market in the USA. With the end of China's competitive advantage in labor, it seems likelier than not that there will be fewer goods "Made in China" in 2022 than at present.
2) Endangered species
There are several animals in China that may not be here in 10 years and no, the giant panda is not one of them. Since the giant panda serves as a national symbol, conservation facilities like the Chengdu Panda Breeding Research Center have taken measures to repopulate the panda population; making it likely the pandas will still be here in the future.
Unfortunately, not all animals are so lucky. The golden snub-nosed monkey endemic to China's southwest has historically been poached for its beautiful fur. But with mass deforestation, this rare primate is also quickly losing its habitat. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), only 16,000 exist in the wild today.
The South China tiger is also losing its home due to rapid development and the destruction of nature. It hasn't been sighted in the wild for nearly three decades and less than 100 live in captivity. The brown eared pheasant is also in danger of becoming extinct, although unlike the Crescent Ibis (another endangered Chinese bird), not many conservation efforts have been undertaken to preserve it and it's estimated that only 2,000 can still be found in China today.
A hutong is a traditional Chinese alley or neighborhood characterized by old buildings, classic architecture, courtyard houses (siheyuan) and narrow dusty streets. Hutongs can be found in many of China's ancient cities, but the most popular are in Beijing. Though some hutongs are hundreds of years old and have survived countless revolutions and wars, the hutongs (especially of Beijing) are quickly vanishing due to construction and developmental projects. Wide highways, skyscrapers and modern facilities of the 21st century are rapidly replacing these antique districts.
According to some estimates, in 1944 there were more than 3,000 hutongs in the nation's capital. There are now less than 1,000, with that number decreasing annually. Recently, due to the outcries from local residents over the destruction of hutongs, several have been preserved as historic sites. So the good news is some hutongs have escaped the bulldozers. The bad news is that many have been transformed into tourist traps, lined with T-shirt and souvenir shops. Therefore, it definitely seems to reason that with the PRC's continued developmental scheme, the mysteriously enchanting hutongs of China's past are fading away.
This may be a surprise especially since China is considered one of the most polluted countries in the world with 16 of the planet's 20 most polluted cities. But cleanup efforts and a green initiative have recently been implemented to help curb this environmental catastrophe. In 2011, Phew Environmental Group revealed that China invested 54.4 billion USD in clean technology; by far the most in the world (40% more than in the U.S.). In 2009, China agreed to the Copenhagen climate change agreement and vowed to reduce its carbon intensity rate (emission of carbon dioxide per unit of economic growth) by up to 45%, promising to reach 2005 levels by the year 2020.
Furthermore, with pollution related problems costing the economy more than 200 billion USD per year and pollution related illnesses like cancer becoming the number one killer, people are beginning to realize the importance of cleaning up the country. While it's impossible to eliminate 100% of the pollution in large cities in China, it does seem that through progressive governmental policies, international environmental summits and public awareness, the days of China being the king of contamination could very well be at an end.
5) The Great Firewall
The Chinese government blocked Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and other sites they deemed a "threat to national security" in 2009 after widespread riots in Xinjiang and Tibet rocked the nation. Even more astonishingly is the fact that 2,600 websites are still indefinitely blocked in China today! But there are signs that the web's most popular sites will be available soon. This year on February 27, Chinese netizens reported that Facebook, Youtube and Twitter were temporarily accessible; causing many to believe the government was testing a new open door policy.
Mark Zuckerberg, founder of social networking giant Facebook, is currently learning Mandarin to lobby PRC officials and is relentless in his "surround and conquer" business strategy to enter China. Zuckerberg believes that if he spreads Facebook to China's neighbors first, it will eventually creep its way into Chinese society under the firewall. But perhaps the most determining factor is the demand of the people. If the average person inside China wants to surf a banned website, they'll use a proxy or find another loophole. It's similar to how the USSR tried censoring information to the masses, ultimately failing. So with cracks in the Great Firewall, prominent businessmen lobbying for support and the ever-growing demand of the people, it seems inevitable that this brand of censorship cannot possibly endure in the long run.
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Keywords: effects of modernization in China things to disappear in China endangered species in China disappearance of hutongs in China big changes in China
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1) Made in China
Made in China is not going to disappear anytime soon. While the cost of labor is increasing, it is just one part of the manufacturing cost.
China's clustering of like industries, for example Shenzhen's electronic factories, or Ningbo's material molding industry make for increased competition and so lower prices, while also improving availability of items.
Eventually other countries such a Vietnam or Philippines might be able to replicate it, but not in the short term.
Oct 11, 2012 20:10 Report Abuse
Noah's Ark, the civilized (and trendy, and civilized) restaurant opened by the
富二代 and for the 富二代. That takes care of the endangered animals part of your post...
Also, cheaper to eat out in the West than in China? If you go to a (there's that phrase again) 富二代-filled place, then sure, you might be right. I don't know and I don't care. I'm not in China to eat Buddha jumps over Tibet served ten ways, I'm here to EAT OUT, China-style. Tables spilling onto the streets and sidewalks, chefs regularly yelling at waitstaff, various Chinese characters that went extinct years ago but have resurfaced because there's just no other way to write "fish found at the confluence of two muddy Henan rivers"...IMO, if you're going to a French restaurant in Beijing or Shanghai, what do you expect? Eh well, that's just a little I-M-O for e-chi-na.
Sep 03, 2012 20:02 Report Abuse
Also soon to be missing, or already gone.
Cheap food and clothes.
My Chinese wife is in UK now and is surprised to find that in many cases it is now cheaper than China for many things. Especially the cost of eating out.
She had an all you can eat Chinese buffet and it cost GBP12.50 (about 125rmb). Good safe food, and in a nice place. Much cheaper than eating in a nice place in China (her words).
You can get a 2 course meal here for under GBP5 (50rmb) in a nice clean environment. No health risks.
Clothes in UK are made in China, but are much cheaper and of a better quality. The only way to get that quality in China is to go to a department store and pay up to 20x the UK price. Even going to a department store and paying 2-3x the price of UK you will not get the quality.
Sep 02, 2012 23:09 Report Abuse
While it would be likely accurate to say there are FEWER health risks eating in the UK vs. eating in China, it is completely inaccurate to say there are NO health risks.
In "Western" countries generally, there are still fatalities attributable to biologic contamination. Within the last two years there have been dozens of fatalities in Europe and North America connected to both listeria and E. coli contamination of vegetables and fruit alone. Both continents also continue to import foods from nations with questionable food standards - the heaviest offenders in the US are Mexico, India, and China, according to the US FDA - and it wasn't all that long ago that Europe had issues with food imported from India that contained red textile dye, which, if memory serves, was attributed to the deaths of several hundred people.
Also, if you're in the UK, owing largely to dismissal of safe cattle feeding standards adopted in the US, you'll have to watch out for BSE, (bovine spongiform encephaly, or as some desperate marketers referred to it, "Bit of Something Extra." Because there is no known way to decontaminate prions, BSE can also show in derivative processed products - like anything involving gelatin, for example. So once again, it's accurate to say there are FEWER health risks eating in the western nations, but wildly inaccurate to say there aren't any.
Sep 03, 2012 11:52 Report Abuse
Absolutely right, Jay. As we speak, there is a major E.Coli/Salmonella outbreak in the midwestern US that has already claimed several lives, and has sickened hundreds in over 20 states, all from eating contaminated cantaloupes. And remember, E.Coli was originally a bovine-related pathogen, but has now gotten so saturated into the water and food supply that it may very well be too late to eradicate it. And it all started because cattle in the US, Canada and mexico were switched from a grass-fed diet to a grain-fed diet. Cattle never evolved to digest grain, their digestive systems are only evolved to digest grass. But the huge multi-national corporations that now own 98% of all of the farms in North America find it much cheaper to feed them grain. If all of the cattle were to be put back on a grass-fed diet, 80% to 90% of all E.Coli would be gone within a matter of weeks. But this is not "Economically Feasible." i.e. the CEO's wouldn't be able to keep their yachts. It is much easier -and cheaper!- to pump the cattle full of antibiotics and growth hormone. The same with chicken and turkey. In fact, turkeys in the US are pumped so full of growth hormone that the females have to be artificially inseminated. The males breast muscles are so large, they can not mount the females. This is no joke, you can check the data yourselves. And all of these drugs don't disappear on the way to your dinner table. You're eating them, too.
The fact is that there are going to be health risks with anything you eat or drink, no matter where you are.In China, we know we have to boil the water before we drink it. In parts of the US, there are people who can actually light the water from their tap on fire. Is the EPA, or any government agency, telling them to be careful, don't drink the water? Not likely. When it comes to food safety, we are our own best advocates. Take a look around you when you go to a restaurant. Take a sniff. If it doesn't look, smell, feel, or seem right, well, follow your gut (no pun intended).
Sep 03, 2012 15:23 Report Abuse
Some emendations to Mike's post:
1) Currently there are at least two recalls involving cantaloupes - one involving listeria in cantaloupes from a North Carolina farm, and another involving salmonella in cantaloupes from a farm in Indiana - but not one involving E. coli. Usually listeria is the main culprit where cantaloupes are concerned.
2) Current thought has it that E. coli has been around for 20-30 million years or so, which predates civilization, not to mention the birth of animal husbandry and the cattle industry. E. coli and its relatives the other coliforms are naturally found all over the place and especially in the lower intestines of warm-blooded organisms. Most strains of E. coli are non-pathogenic and actually exert beneficial impacts (e.g. preventing colonization of the lower g.i. tract by pathogens and synthesizing vitamins). Humans harbor a number of strains. The bad guys include E. coli O157:H7 (which affects not only humans but also cattle - and both can be reservoirs for the pathogen) and more recently E. coli O104:H4.
3) The existence of E. coli pathogens has nothing to do with cattle diets.
4) Cattle producers rarely (if ever) find it cheaper to feed than to put cattle out to graze.
5) The USDA's Economic Research Service puts the percentage of family-owned and operated farms at much higher than 02% - the claim that "huge MNCs own 98% of the farms in North America" is simply not accurate.
6) In my part of the country we used to doctor yearling cattle upon receipt with an anti-mycotoxin (to counter exposure to soil spore pathogens), an external anti-parasite treatment, 1-2 internal anti-parasite medications, and a vitamin A shot. This treatment varies with animal age and gender, and herd location. In no sense can this be interpreted as "[full of] antibiotics and growth hormone," and in any case, everything but the vitamin A shot in that list also contributes to food safety.
My initial post on food safety was not intended to be alarmist in the way that Mike's post was. I merely intended to point out that food safety issues come up everywhere, although the rate of incidence, causes and likelihood of consequences - not to mention transparency in reporting of issues - can vary depending on where you live.
Sep 03, 2012 22:38 Report Abuse
Completely agree with Mike. There is so much ignorance, and so many false beliefs, about China in the U.S.A. and Canada that they should all shut up until they actually get some real information and understanding. Canada has the small advantage that their country isn't in hock to China for borrowing huge sums of money, but it is a small advantage, given their complete dependence on a healthy U.S. economy.
Sep 01, 2012 16:10 Report Abuse
First, the fact is that China actually has the smallest carbon footprint PER CAPITA than any other country on earth. So in those terms it's people are contributing the least pollution as opposed to the US, who is close to being the leading polluter in the world. And with the Republican scum getting their way (and, of course, a good number of the democrats), the US is actually INCREASING their carbon footprint, because they are relaxing all of the laws that were in place for decades. They even tried to have the EPA disbanded. Ludicrous. China, on the other hand, is actively trying to reduce its level of pollution. Yes, it is bad, but they are also doing something about it. All of the new highways they are building, if you look at all of the lights, you will see that they all have small solar panels and turbine fans at the top. They draw little or NO power from the grid! Just goes to prove that wehre there is a will, there is a way.
The only other thing I want to say is directed to people like "happy," and those like him/her: If you don't like China, then why the hell are you still here??? I read a lot of stupid statements from people who never have anything nice to say about this country, or its people. Well, like we say in New York, "get the hell out!" I was not happy in the US. There were many things I couldn't stand. So I left. Simple. Easy. If you don't like China, well, leave. Sure, there are things I wish were different here. But I love China, and I will live here for the rest of my life. I don't go around bad-mouthing her. I am grateful for the opportunity to live here, and make a good living, and not have to deal with petty political crap like in Washington. To actually live in a country where the government does things FOR its people, not its corporations, and doesn't go around invading defenseless countries in its quest for imperial dominance. A place where I can go to work, and not have to worry some psycho is going to come in with an automatic weapon and try to kill everyone. I love China and its people and its history, and the fact that it has a government of action, not of empty rhetoric. So if you don't like it here, leave. She doesn't need you. Either that, or just shut up.
Aug 30, 2012 20:59 Report Abuse
Pollution -> I would suggest you read 'When a Million Chinese Jump' and you'll understand that before it gets better the pollution will get much, much worse first. The peak is estimated to take place sometime in the 2040's.
Great Firewall -> Don't expect this to disappear anytime soon either. And besides, why would the majority of Chinese people want to use Twitter, Facebook and Youtube when they have Sina Weibo, RenRen and Youku?
Very few of my Chinese friends that use a proxy are actively present on non-Chinese social media.
Aug 29, 2012 00:51 Report Abuse