Friday, 11 April 2008

India, not China

This morning at a business breakfast I sat next to an elderly couple who'd been missionaries and publishers in India for years.

I asked them what they thought of India's mammoth growth into a world power. A very interesting reply:

"Not many people realise that India is going to be much bigger than China. China is growing faster because it's a communist autocracy, but India will outgrow it because they have a stable infrastructure."

He pointed out that a lot of that infrastructure has to do with India's colonial past, which has led to a democratic government, a supreme court that parliament can't overturn, a share market and an amazing rail network that's working 24/7.

Jack Yan pointed out something very similar in his press release warning that New Zealand may regret its recent free trade agreement with China.

I don't have much to add - yet. I have, however, nearly finished The Dragon and the Foreign Devils, a history of China's foreign relations for the last 6000 years or so.

It's shocking just how recently China was an absolute wasteland, during the cultural revolution in the 1960s. It is incredible how quickly things have turned around, thanks to the canny wisdom of Deng Xiaoping and, to a lesser degree, his successors. But still there remains an unhealthy tension between closed, undemocratic government and free markets.

Next on my reading list is The Tiger and the Dragon (I think I've got the title right), a look at both India and China. I'm looking forward to it!

On another completely different note, China's well-known for its bad human rights record with Tibet, Falun Gong, etc. What's less well-known is the intense persecution of Christians in India's rural areas.

(Thanks to leicui for the image!)


Bernhard Kingsley said...

Great points here. Damn interesting. I'm trying to write an article on the FTA and people seem suspiciously excited about the whole thing. The only people who are against it seem to be so because they want MORE in the FTA. Thanks for posting about some balancing points here.

Simon said...

Thank you, Bernhard, for your comment. Much appreciated.

newnimproved said...

I disagree.

The main difference being that corruption and red tape has increased with the economy opening up.

Plus we are bad in execution of ideas.


Simon said...

Thanks Sunil. Why do you think the corruption and red tape have increased since the economy opened up?