Learning Mandarin in China – On The Crest of A Wave

20 May

Learning Mandarin is a good idea mainly because of what China is going to become, not only because of what it represents today.

The best thing about China is without a doubt its potential. Don’t get me wrong. There are a great many things that I love about being in China. I love the food. I love the people. I love the fact that I can wake up, walk for 10 minutes and stand on Tiananmen Square. Going there always excites me. But nothing can compare to the fact that I am living in the heart of the greatest paradigm shift of our time. Beijing will in time eclipse Washington. There can be no doubt about that. It is a very strange notion that The United States will not forever be the dominant force in diplomatic and economic matters. It is even stranger that China, which has only very recently, in the last few years, stepped into the limelight will be the nation to contend for the title of the worlds most powerful country.

But as I said, there can be no doubt. Since the market liberalization strategy really kicked into gear during the early 1990’s Chinas economy has broken every record there is for growth and development. Double-digit annual growth rates have seen China’s output, income and expenditure double around every 7 to 8 years. The fact that this pace has been kept for 20 years makes China a growth miracle in every sense of the word. The rate at which China has been modernized is unrivaled in the history of mankind. This has not been as clear to many people as it has been after the economic crisis experienced by the west but not by China. China continued with its 10 percent growth when the west went through every kind of economic hell imaginable. A 10 % unemployment rate in The United States speaks volumes. The debt crisis in Greece that was the first in modern times to threaten a western government with the possibility of a default. Similar problem are even now haunting Ireland, Portugal and Spain. The possibility of default is manageable by the European Union if the problems are confined to the former two but not to the latter. If Spain was to prove unable to service its debts the European Monetary Union will need to be rethought. That would probably make the economic troubles to date seem like a pretty nice holiday. No one really has a plan for what do in that case. Meanwhile in China, there are not even clouds on the horizon. For the Middle Kingdom things have never looked brighter.

In 2010 China accounted for a full quarter of the total global growth rates. No one anticipated that 20 years ago, not 10 years ago and not 5 years ago. Today, to think of economics in any way, and not include China, seems to be the height of tunnel vision. China is everywhere. No market is unaffected by Chinas rise in some way. From basic commodities to increasingly advanced technology, they all have something do with Chinas growing appetite or Chinas ability to produce things cheaper than anyone and anywhere else. The Ipod may be though of in The United States, but it is almost entirely produced and assembled in China. The same goes for a lot of other things. Most things.

I recently listened to a great speech by a Swedish scholarship winner who was awarded to go to Shanghai for a year and work for The Swedish Trade Council there. He really captured the pervasive sentiment in China; to be in China in 2010 is like standing in Times Square at the turn of the last century. In 1990 the word was New York. The melting pot of ideas created miracles there. It was the port that most people from the old world arrived at. It was the symbol of a new dawning age where Europe was not dominant in the way it had been for hundred of years. The 20’s of the new millennium might just be that age for China.

Rui Ming works for a Chinese language school in China that is a great option for those that want to learn Mandarin. See the program overview page for more information about learning Mandarin.

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