Monday, June 30, 2008
"I love China" t-shirts are becoming a big hit here; I've even noticed a few people carrying around olympic flags already. The torch is coming through Zhengzhou on July 30th, so I guess things are coming to an end in terms of olympic preparations. The road it will be run along has been conspicuously revamped this past month, leaving side streets looking worse for wear in comparison, but who knows, maybe the others will be fixed up next.
I am amazed the olympics is already about to begin. I remember back about three years ago thinking about what post-olympics China would be like; it was a total blank , a very clear fork in the road for this country. And now we're all about to find out what lies beyond Beijing 2008. I've still not made up my mind: this event could herald the beginning of the so-called "China Century" or it could end the long run of record development that China has enjoyed for the past several decades.
The latter possibility remains deeply etched in my thinking, mostly because of conversations I've had with foreign investors and people involved in international trade here. Over the past several years, I've heard many people say that profits (especially on the stock market) were virtually guaranteed up until the olympics. After that, no one knew, and the assumption was that many people might pull out in August to avoid future risks.
As far as I can see, the worrying is basically centered around the following issue:
Before the olympics, China will be extrememly careful to cater to international concerns and demands for the simple reason that it makes good business sense. The happier people are with China, the more people will see and visit the country this summer.
After the olympics, without the attention and shine of the international olympic spotlight, China has the possibility of sliding backwards in many areas it has thus far improved in, making investment a trickier and far less profit-certain enterprise.
This is one way of viewing China, and while it is perhaps too conservative for my liking, it is nonetheless roughly how a lot of people living and/or investing in China see the situation.
To be honest, I haven't a clue how the dice will fall. I don't think the country is going to collapse after the lights of the closing ceremony dim, but I suspect there might be a slump of investment over worries about future profit margins in a county where quick fortunes and easy gains are quickly disappearing in the face of stiffer competition, a rising currency, and domestic inflation.
Let's first enjoy the olympics though, then worry about what comes next.
Picture: Another from Suzhou.
P.S.: Happy Canada Day to all of you too, I appreciate the well-wishes =) When I finish this last exam I promise I'll do a better job of keeping in touch.
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