Today, China’s population has risen to over 1.3 billion and is expected to reach 1.5 billion by 2020, even with its strict one-child policy still in effect. And while there is heavy debate over whether or not the 21st Century will be belong to China as opposed to the US, it cannot be disputed that China has had tremendous economic growth. Using my father as an example, the factory he worked at shut down after the company decided it would be more cost-effective to manufacture its products overseas where the labour is cheaper. Hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty in China as a result of the government’s aggressive economic policies and politcal muscle.
While I will not comment on the effect of such speedy growth on Chinese culture, I will say that such economic policies have clearly benefitted its citizens. According to a book I read while on the road in China this year, aptly titled “China Road” by Rob Gifford, the once struggling and impoverished Chinese now aspire to what is becoming a realistic goal – “moderate prosperity.” And my impressions of the country from visiting cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi’an, is that Chinese youth have embraced capitialism and consumerism with open arms. Not only do they want what we have in the West, but like many countries around the world, many of its citizens would like to work in places likes Canada, or at least do so remotely. This means greater competition in terms of institutional education and employment. It also means that a stronger two-way relationship between China and Canada is increasingly necessary. And after having recently visiting China and seeing with my own eyes the results of its massive economic expansion policies, nothing is clearer: Dad was right – it’s time to learn Mandarin. I start classes this September. Better late than never, right dad?