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[Opinion] China`s Overtaking

Posted November. 13, 2001 09:17,   


People say that China is still behind. That is to say that we need to wait and see, although China is hosting the Olympic Games and became a member of the World Trade Organization. This is true. China still seeks to learn from Japan and South Korea, and will do everything to accept the fund and technology from Europe and the U.S. There is a false image of China exaggerated by the world media, and some people are concerned that the world will go through another hardship once `the China bubble` breaks.

However, there are some signs that we should closely observe and watch. A deputy-president of an opposition party, who seems to be insensitive to the international affairs, said yesterday after visiting China, ``China`s take-off is alarming. If we waste our time with political disputes, we may be ruined again.`` Not only business people but also politicians began to feel the crisis.

Some scholars even say that China has already outran South Korea. The U.S. Gallup had a consumers` survey in 1995. The U.S. consumers gave 76 points and 74 points to the German goods and Japanese goods, respectively. They gave 41 points to the Chinese goods, whereas they gave only 34 points to the South Korean goods. South Korea`s U.S. market share was 2.3 percent, while China`s U.S. market share was 8.2 percent. This is to say that China`s outrun of South Korea is proved by numerical value.

China outruns South Korea even in the professional baduk game (go game). China invited Lee Chang-Ho (player of the 9th grader), the world`s best baduk player, to the China league and made a contract with him. He will play four rounds and will receive 10,000 US dollar per one round. Belatedly, the Korean Baduk Association is protesting against the decision, saying ``are we going to give out the mastery of baduk?`` Professional baduk can be maintained because of the sponsors, namely business firms. China`s mobile communication, motorcycle, and real estate companies sponsor the professional baduk. China`s baduk league has finally induced Lee Chang-Ho following Yoo Chang-Hyuk (player of the 9th grader) and Mok Jin-Suk (player of 6th grader).

South Korea, which will host the World Cup Game next year, is worried that there is no football boom in the nation. It is really worried if South Korea would be too behind Japan, the co-host of the World Cup Game, in terms of football competency and culture sales outside the football ground. An excellent football player in China is said to receive the annual income amounting approximately to 400 million won. When China began the domestic league with 24 teams since 1994 and invited Cha Beum-Keun and Park Jong-Whan coaches, we did not pay any special attention to that. We flattered ourselves to be the first nation in Asia to start professional football game. Football boom in China is also mainly backed up by business firms.

It is almost hard to believe that this is happening in a country where communist party is in control. China is pushing an amazing and contradictory experiment, that is, grafting two incompatible trees called socialism and market economy in order to produce fruits. Socialism is a system that seeks to guide humans to be altruistic by pressing down selfish human nature. In such a system, China seeks to carry out the contradiction, that is, to activate the market and revive the economy by encouraging selfish human nature. This is as if stealing candlelight in order to read the bible, or as if a housewife sells herself for the sake of living and children`s education.

China`s contradiction is sprouting anyway. One can feel this in the landscape of Shanghai. Standing in the Weitan Park, one can feel the spirit that moves toward high-technology and advancement in the building areas in Pudong, the symbol of reform and open, and the signboards of the multinational corporation. The westernized construction area in Pushi, in which the scar from the domination of the Western power since the Opium War still remains, also attracts tourists. This is why people call this area Manhattan of the East.

China also struggles with income disparity between costal area and the inland, and income disparity between city and agricultural region. However, strangely, Chinese people seem to perceive the income difference not as disparity but as sequence. There is only an expectation that if that side is well-off, this side will become better someday too. There is no sign of confrontation and conflict yet. Should we say that contradiction became a part of life in China? Chinese people are just running forward.

Factories and jobs of South Korea and Japan are moving into the continent of contradiction. Japan is also worried about deindustrialization and the loss of jobs since business firms move to China in search of cheap labor and good condition with the China`s new membership in the WTO. South Korea will not be less affected by this move than Japan is. It may be more affected by such move than Japan is. China outwits us. China is already talking about information-knowledge society.