Napoleon warned Europe that China was a sleeping dragon and it was wise to let her sleep. For if awakened, her roar would shake the earth. Did you feel that tremble? He spoke that at the height of his glory as he was winning at every battle he took on. But, what did Napoleon know?
By 1844 the British had wrested control of Hong Kong in south China in a 99 year lease of a deep protected harbor. Here they began to secure their west Pacific naval base, while eight thousand miles to the east over the Pacific Ocean,near Victoria Canada would be their east Pacific Naval base.
And although within decades Canada had created itself a nation, it was years before Britain was only a visitor at this base, and only a decade ago that Hong Kong reverted to China.
During the re building after the war with Japan, Hong Kong under the British thrived, allowing free enterprise. Millions of Chinese poured into the enclave where it was China but not China and you could get rich, as many did. But the success of this free Hong Hong created the need to put up fortified fences to keep Chinese out, as the population exploded. British control of Shanghai had them create a great European city, in which the park signs read No Chinese Allowed.
China saw wealth and power eluding them with the ways of Marx. Thus gradually, Communist leaders saw this was also happening, and way too much with Japan. There did seem to be some magic to this free market trading. How was it that China was on the winning side of World War Two. But Japan had been so utterly humiliated and forced to accept the Anglo American ways of democracy and a free market economy guided by fair rules, under and after their tutelage Japan and Hong Kong were beating Britain and America at their own game.
So while the Soviet system adopted by China imploded into Russia and the ten smaller bears, yet rich enough with natural resources at just the right time, China was at a cross roads it had already passed. No democracy, but free market cooperation between state corporations and the corporations of the world.
So China is thriving with few natural resources except coal, yet a hard working, diligent, intelligent people who are now building their futures and that of China as never before. Hundreds of millions of people are still on the move to the coastal factories.
On the coast, men and women earn far more than they could have back home. And even in the countryside, the government remains fearful of the many rebellions that do happen every time more people are moved from their ancestral homes by the army, for yet another mega hydro plant or factory.
To ease life in the country, China is helping create one hundred million bio gas cement septic tanks that collect the farm and human waste. From here, a plastic tube feeds back to the family stove, which now gives clean natural methane.
Such a family no longer need to search for branches to cook their meals, cleaning their homes of dirty soot, This greatly and quickly improves the health of the family. This seems to be one of the simplest and least expensive ways to begin to reduce soot into the air, that is: global warming.
If we imagine and then put into place several billion of these in areas such as India and Africa, where the stripping of skeletal trees in the dry lands or desert causes soot and the spread of the desert.
Meanwhile, Chinese are shopping and walking proudly in their parks in Shanghai and across the river a vast new ultra modern metropolis we see. All to the good.
So far, the communist leaders had not been brave enough to loosen controls and also try democracy, but with millions being taught sciences and computer technology people have a way of making their voices and computers heard.
It seems that the extreme good fortune of China was to have ninety nine years to watch and marvel at how that empty deep bay of Hong Kong became the little powerhouse so rich mighty, poor China just could not ignore. Any more.
And besides, if Japan got any richer while China stayed poor, how could they ever defend themselves if either Russia or Japan or that thorn in their side, off shore Taiwan.
The future, except for full democracy, is here now and that growing mutual wealth, the more spread around, the less likely riots and bombs. And we think that is progress of the right kind for now.