The Following article was written by Mark Clifford and published in Business Week, Nov 15, 2002 --
"A China in the Image of America" -- By Kenichi Ohmae
In his new book, Kenichi Ohmae argues that the Asian giant is evolving into something more like the multifaceted U.S.
The United States of China. That's the provocative title of a new book just published in Tokyo by one of Japan's most prominent economic thinkers, former longtime McKinsey consultant Kenichi Ohmae. With their obsession for centralized control, Chinese leaders won't like the title. But they'll like much of the message. After years of skepticism about China's economic potential, Ohmae has become an outspoken China bull. He also has a fresh take on one of the more remarkable economic transformations the world has ever seen.
Ohmae contends that it's a mistake to think of China as a single economy. He notes that its economic growth is increasingly driven by clusters of megacities, most of them along China's coast. If Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore are included, Ohmae reckons that 9 of the 15 largest economies in Asia are part of this U.S. of China.
ATTRACTING ATTENTION. Foreign investment is key to China's takeoff in these megacities, with companies that receive foreign investment accounting for about half of all imports and exports. The scale and quality of the investments has accelerated rapidly in recent years, thanks to reforms by Jiang Zemin and Zhu Rongji. At this point, China can make just about anything anyone wants. With highly skilled $3-per-day labor for as far as the demographers can see, and big slugs of foreign capital and knowhow, it's becoming increasingly clear that the Chinese juggernaut is going to keep rolling for some time to come.
It's obvious, but it bears repeating that China is very big. Like that other United States, it will likely see a variety of different urban centers develop. Americans can happily live in Boston, or San Francisco, or Chicago and be part of a thriving business community (and political community, too, though Ohmae stays away from that). But only a handful of other countries in the world have so many different economic centers.
Most Asian countries, in fact, have a single economic and political center. Think Seoul, Taipei, Jakarta, and Bangkok. Mighty Japan -- the world's second largest economy -- is heavily centered on Tokyo. Even vast India is just starting to see a few cities such as Bangalore and Hyderabad break away from the stranglehold on power and commerce that have long been held by New Delhi and Bombay.