Email being sent to relevant legislators, school board members, and education leaders:
I have long urged you and other Oregon legislators (school board members, and other educational leaders) to respond to China’s economic growth by increasing the number of Oregon students learning Mandarin and studying abroad in China, especially by increasing Mandarin immersion programs and high school study abroad in China programs in our K-12 system. They are the smart, strategic actions to take. Little has been done. Much more needs to be done.
Looking ahead on this theme of a rising China and the world our next generations of Oregonians will confront, the British magazine The Economist in its annual forecast publication “The World in 2014” has the following brief column “The China Question: What will life be like when China is top dog?” by Jonathan Freedland (here):
In 2014 America will be only a few years away from a world that foreign-policy experts have long been predicting: one in which China overtakes it to become the biggest economy, and eventually the mightiest power, on the planet. The longer China surges (albeit no longer at double-digit rates) while a gridlocked Washington cannot solve its own problems, let alone anyone else’s, the more Americans and others will contemplate a mind-concentrating question: what will life be like when China is top dog?
Few believe that Chinese dominance will be identical to America’s global supremacy of the past half-century. Tea and dim sum will not replace Coke and the Big Mac overnight. Likelier is that the familiar Western brands will remain but under Chinese ownership. The model is Lenovo’s takeover of IBM’s personal-computing division or Geely’s acquisition of Volvo of Sweden.
The cultural impact will be less obvious than in the days of Coca-Cola imperialism, but just as real. Witness the Chinese purchase of AMC, an entertainment giant: Beijing may not be able to make films that the world wants to see, but it will decide which ones get produced and own the cinemas where they are shown.
China’s soft power will make itself felt in every aspect of Western lives. Business may slow during late January, thanks to the Chinese new year. The seasonal habit of hanging lanterns from the trees may cross the Pacific, the way Hallowe’en masks travelled back to Europe across the Atlantic. The Olympic games and football World Cup will have to adjust their timetables to accommodate the world’s largest television audience.
The classiest hotels will have signs in English and Mandarin, welcoming the new rich. Western politicians will all but beg for Chinese investment. And American Lord Granthams, eminent men without money, will marry Chinese Coras, women without lineage but with plenty of spare cash.
American and European elites will pride themselves on knowing the names of the rising stars of Chinese politics, the way they used to know the early field for Iowa and New Hampshire. They will follow China for the same reason Willie Sutton said he robbed banks: “Because that’s where the money is.”
If, or when, China becomes “top dog,” will Oregon be prepared?
Sincerely – Dave Porter