At The Motley Fool I wrote a post where I pointed to various recent blog entries and said "China scares me". I was then asked:
Could you explain why China scares you? Are you afraid that thousands of Chinese people would swim over the pacific ocean to throw empty bottles and rocks at your house? :)
To which I replied as below
Well if they want to swim across the Pacific they won't get my house, situated as it is near the Mediterranean...
but more seriously what worries me about China is that it seems to becoming more and more stridently nationalist and its leadership more and more populist (and I don't mean that in a good way). For example the recent complaints about Japanese textbooks would have more credibility if China's own textbooks mentioned (for example) its invasion of Tibet or the millions who died during the great leap forward
From an AFP report: ...While learning materials in Chinese high schools take special pains to outline Japanese aggression beginning with the 1874 invasion of Taiwan Taiwan, China's involvement in the 1950-53 Korea war is dismissed in one sentence.
At the same time such are the holes in modern Chinese history that the average mainland college graduate still believes China is a "peaceful country" which has fought wars only in self-defense.
Completely absent from textbooks is China's 1951 invasion and subsequent colonisation of an independent Tibet Tibet. Erased too is the 1962 attack on India India and the ill-fated 1979 incursion into Vietnam
But even when it comes to China's domestic history students know shockingly little about the deaths of tens of millions that resulted from Mao Zedong's ill-conceived Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution.
Despite changes that apportion Mao with greater blame for the tragedies, texts still gloss them over because in China "textbooks represent the will of the authorities", says Shanghai Normal University history professor Su Zhiliang.
Within China the pervasive censorship and widespread corruption doesn't help, nor does the fact that China performed soemthing like 90% of all the official executions in the world last year. Not to mention the wide imbalances in wealth and opportunity between the coast and the inland provinces. There are also problems with the financial system, which appears to have many loans made to non-viable businesses that were made because of either corruption or communist party pressure to keep a loss maker going. And there is the problem of the male-female imbalance due to the one-child policy that seems to have left China with a significant surplus of males in the younger generations.
The combination of xenophobic nationalism, excess males and the possibility of a financial crash (and hence economic depression) does indeed scare me because in such circumstances I find it highly plausible that the leadership will attempt an external war to either rectify the problem or to cynically distract the population. I believe China would lose that war but I don't think the loss would be quick and the war would almost certainly cause hugh damage to both China and its neighbours and be a big problem to the global economy as a whole.
This is why "China scare me". Now I hope (and were I religious I'd pray) that China becomes a more liberal democratic nation without sinking into internal collapse or attacking its neighbours, but I see a lot of interlocking problems with various imbalances in China and I worry that there may be no way to resolve these imbalances without violence.