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2017
Asia Needs more Dialogue
Solutions to urban pollution may prove complex
Spread of ESGs could herald new global movement
Investing in quality education is imperative if India wants to reap demographic dividends
China needs to lead in new multi-stakeholder world
China’s B&R initiative leading a resurgence of Asia
Education is key - but long-term: Can we survive?
New wave of robots will be beneficial to all
China needs to continue with its ‘heavy lifting’
Time is right for Chinese firms to invest in Europe
Robots to the rescue for China?
Asian Multinationals are Going Global, But to Where?
China ratchets forward with energy efforts
China’s calm necessary for globalization push
Bridging managerial gaps involves trust-building
China well-placed to power its future through green technology advances
China's new 'springtime' is here
2016
China’s moves show it’s banking on the future
Mindset for action at the G20 summit will be determined by Chinese presidency
Chinese head-hunting intensifies for rare managers that can steer overseas firms
US talk of isolation jars with growing links in Europe and Asia
Electoral rhetoric on global trade not in sync with reality
Is it time to be prudent and consider austerity policies again?
What will we do if we have no oil?
Unlock talent by finding the right fit for a person
The benefits are real and tangible
Trade along China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ won’t succeed without the currency of trust
Reasons for optimism about the long term
2015
Can big oil go green and win?
Poorer Nations Could Sway Climate Talks
Combating Idleness and Deprivation
How China can be a model of food sustainability for the developing world
Kyoto II – Is it a Done Deal?
A meeting of the two largest economic powers
Why China will experience a 'soft' landing
Beware of superstitions
The Elephant and Dragon move ahead
G-7 target on fossil fuels raises many questions
Why Battle for Net Neutrality in the US Matters Globally
China’s resurgence – the ‘normal new’
Wanted: A managerial culture that embraces cultural differences
China's early education plan a smart investment in the future
The New Normal for China and India
2014
China's infrastructure push offers a sure track to better growth
US-China climate pact a good start, but not quite enough
Rethink the human’s place in the ‘digital revolution’
China springs a carbon surprise
Infrastructure - the invisible hand in full view
Dialogue vital for survival of Iraqi nation
China must nurture a new generation of beautiful minds
Great expectations in China and India
GM Cereals – The Pros and Corns
Time to be Honest about Our Energy Prospects
Weathering the Storm of Climate Change
Making a Big Decision? Beware of Your Biases
West Deserves Better Logistics Infrastructure
Digital Currencies do Represent the Future
From 'Printed' Houses to Wooden Skyscrapers
It’s time to bail out our schools, not our firms
Solution to India’s housing shortage – print new ones!
And the most promising green technologies of 2014 are ...
Transport infrastructure key to domestic, export growth
Oil stopgaps: Not worth risking
2013
Why the US should grant Edward Snowden amnesty
May we be more optimistic!
China headed for another massive social experiment?
A dialogue that worked
Yes, politicians deserve vacations - because we benefit
NPOs, NGOs invaluable as creators of dialogue
Look closer and ask: Is America reinventing itself?
Boston bombings case underlines need for dialogue
Millennium Development Goals or own goals?
As usual it's about balance - and timing - of course
Chinese strategists make right moves for growth
2012
Preparing for tomorrow
Austerity or growth?
Japan in danger of becoming 'just a place to fly over'
Beware of the business cycle?
An inconvenient truth
Limited offer sale: Buy a country
Where did our money go?
Leading from behind - a year of elections is almost over
Driving towards a green future
Waiting for springtime
Preserve or Perish
Startlingly similar Asia policy for Obama, Romney
Globalisation remains an irresistible trend
Google has the edge in smartphone war
U.S. Braces for China's Rise
Mankind’s General Scourge
The summer holidays are over and nothing has changed!
Put the hidden trillions to work
Making sense of India’s woes and wonders
Storm in a teacup!
Let’s give bad bankers a venue to admit their sins
News is about depth, not puff or velocity
Booming India, but too few toilets
Delayed Court decisions doesn't mean one may continue to play 'Great Game'
We need media to reflect on data and offer public a balanced view
Big polluters can lead in forging common purpose
The weighty issue of choosing a leader
EU-India Relations - Facing similar challenges
Educating with a goal
The Judicial Malaise
We are growing out, but not growing up
EU´s retrenchment enigma
Urbulence in the Eurozone and the effect on SMEs
Skolkovo May Help Russia to Diversify
Make things more effective
Tapping into the Commonwealth connection
Innovative models for public finance
Facebook revolution but Indian style
The feel-good factor
Asian investors - a private equity opportunity
India needs to be taller and stronger
China´s low sales volume...
Nations playing leapfrog
Shafts of sunlight
What webs we weave
As performers go to Davos, the circus steals the show
Can we control the politicians?
 
2011
Europe’s reminiscence
China firms should go for win-win in overseas ventures
Of procrastination...
Making sense of profiteering
Truth about financial mess must be laid bare
Small is also beautiful
China can help Europe with debt crisis
Excising the cancer of global corruption
Education, a critical asset
Arab uprisings set in motion forces of creative destruction
A new era of change
We must ensure better education for all
Beijing wary of bankrolling a lost cause
Asean's re-emergence as a local and global leader
Why India's Role in the Global Economy is Still Work in Progress
Its the leadership, stupid!
Reverse globalisation: The new buzzword
Rethink the human’s place in the ‘digital revolution’
By Frank-Jürgen Richter
Business Times, October 30, 2014
 

Has China any weakness? Well, yes and no. Of course, an opinion writer might say this, but I believe China is somewhat vulnerable to an incoming factor that will hit all nations big or small, developed or developing – and that’s the third wave of technological change. I will come to this aspect later; first let me discuss other factors, again globally scoped.

China is the most populous nation on earth though soon to be overtaken by India. The United Nations has noted that the 7 billion world population will grow to about 11billion by 2100 With most of that growth coming from sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. The one-child policy of China undoubtedly affected its demographic profile, but many other nations voluntarily reduced their birth rates.

Undoubtedly, it was China’s women who did the most, driven by economics, the better availability of contraception and, above all, by knowledge. The most important aspect of their learning was that reducing infant mortality due to better healthcare and better post-natal care showed less need to have many children to ensure that a surviving male child would continue the family line. Data showed up to nine births were needed to be statistically sure of a surviving boy-child and thus total family numbers grew.

Now, across most of the world, the birth rate has fallen to the replacement rate of 2.05 or below – except for Africa and Asia. In China, the population by 2100 is expected to reduce slightly to about one billion. The increase in global population has many knock-on effects, one of which is food security. This aspect maybe mitigated by a natural drift of the rural population to townships, which permits tiny fields to be sold to agri-businesses able to use large digitally controlled machines to work the land to its best advantage.

According to the UN, more than half of the world’s population had moved to cities by 2008, and by 2050 some 64 per cent of developing and 86 per cent of developed nations’ people would be urban residents. The rural-to-urban migration occurred some time ago in Europe and North America, but is still to occur in Africa and Asia – just those places where the birth rates are still high.

TWO MAJOR CHANGES
My rough oversight of the figures suggests that developing nations have presently achieved about 69 per cent of the UN 2050 target – but that figure includes single-citied Micronesia, and large-citied South Africa and the Middle East and North African (MENA) states; excluding these regions yields 54 per cent. On the other hand, developed nations have achieved an average of 88 per cent of the 2050 UN target.

According to general consensus, we have passed through two major changes. The first was commonly called the “Industrial Revolution” when machines powered by wind, water, then steam took over from the muscle power we used before: steam power was the greatest driver from the mid-1700s to the early 1800s.

The second great change was the discovery of electricity generation in the late 1800s bringing in the age of electrical power. Through these “waves of change”, we have seen world GDP rise due to increased trade. Of course, workers were displaced for a while, but always they have returned to work on new tasks associated with and developing from the steam or electricity utilisation.

But this is not the case now as the third wave of industrialisation – the digital revolution – will dispense with many laborious tasks. I have already alluded to digitally controlled agricultural vehicles. These are machines that will plough and harvest with little human intervention controlled by satellite guidance systems. They understand how much seed to plant in each field and how much fertiliser to apply to gain optimum yields.

The earlier rural-to-town migration saw muscled men absorbed in the factories, but now this will not be the case as automation is the rule in new factories, and costly manpower will be reduced except for the highly educated able to design and control the machines.

The “Great Global Issue” will be how to manage the masses who wish to move to the cities in which, increasingly, there is less need form annual labour. It is less of a problem in the developed world which has already achieved 88 per cent of the UN target, but the developing world aspiring to the developed world’s lifestyle has achieved only 54 per cent of that target.

Even China with its mega-conglomerations in Shanghai/Suzhou and the Pearl River delta has only recently seen over 50per cent of its population reside in cities. In olden times, there were riots against transitional changes, and people could see which factories were automating; now the digital revolution is accelerating and all of us are forcing it ahead and uplifting the wealth divide as we embrace new nimble Internet giants worth millions but having fewer workers.

How can a State that has little spare cash offer suitable benefits for their poor who might never work again? And how can States mollify hardworking people who look to the others who are long-term idle displaced by the digital tsunami?

‘PREMATURE DE-INDUSTRIALISATION’
New thinking is required especially as we find “premature de-industrialisation” in developing countries where already labour is pricing itself out of the market place.

As I suggested, it is the digital revolution that will cause havoc globally, and it is the populous developing nations that will suffer most. China, I think, has thought ahead. It has built many new cities which await residents from the provinces nearby. It needs to absorb these migrants into meaningful tasks, and to provide the services they will need – including many more services, education and medical staff that were not available in truly rural areas.

Hopefully, the city managers will be able to build online competency-based education suitable for broad Chinese needs rather than Internet-based courses developed by Western academic gurus. Local courses uplifting local competencies will revolutionise their new workforces taking up useful jobs – not horrid demeaning soul-destroying make-tasks.

 

The writer is founder and chairman of Horasis, a global visions community


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