13 April 2022

Video of the day -- death of a nation

"China in ten years will not exist as a functional nation."  Quite a startling claim, but try to ignore the speaker's over-dramatic delivery and focus on the hard information provided.  No society could remain viable through the kind of demographic implosion and age-structure changes that lie in China's near future, and a country where the birth rate has fallen by half in five years (this is true -- 13.57 births per 1,000 people in 2016 to 7.52 in 2021) is a country in profound crisis.  Much, though not all, of this is fallout from the catastrophic "one-child policy" of 1980-2015.  Add in China's problems with geography, resources, and military inferiority, and the real picture begins to emerge from behind the popular hype.


Blogger yellowdoggranny said...

let them sink...

13 April, 2022 07:30  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've long, since the 70s, thought China was a unsuitable and unnatural chimera of a nation. Huge land mass, over a dozen native languages, better than a half-dozen cultures that, by right, should be semi-autonomous states.

All of these disparate parts forced, at considerable initial and ongoing effort and expense, to be one nation. A huge slice of the young and healthy people who could be in industry or the military, are tied up in internal social control. A large slice of brain power and creativity is also going into new and improved high-tech social control systems instead of creating the next killer app or device.

Fighting to stay one nation under one centralized government that demands total control over though, word and deed. Consumes resources, exhausts creativity and immiserates the population. With long exhausting days without hope of change is it any surprise people don't want to have children?

There have been signs of decrepitude for a long time. The Cultural Revolution left China without a established culture or history. The massive differentials between urban prosperity and vast tracts of rural poverty were always worrying as these differentials only got worse. The obsession of the government with control. The demographic trends. Rampant corruption and nepotism that always escapes the central control mechanism and law. Yes there are worrying aspects and the demise of China as a nation is on the table.

That said, the nation, as a central government as a major player may fall apart but the people, we are still talking a billion people aren't going anywhere. As previously mentioned there are commonalities or culture, language and ethnicity that seem to point toward regions gelling as regional governments. If these proto-states can resist the urge to make war and fight they could become individually prosperous and, in time, form a union. If and when the central government collapses I would think Taiwan, holder of the Chinese heritage, prosperous, but still separated and so relatively neutral would be a natural facilitator for organization and negotiation.

I would resist the urge to write people and movements off. After WW2 we, the west, assumes Nazism and fascism were defeated and gone forever. As with most problems, problematic trends and issues can be managed and minimized but never completely eliminated.

And don't write off the Chinese too quickly. Their nation was a bunch of warlords constantly fighting. The population was excessive. or, wiped out by war and disease, too thin. They were backward, weak and disorganized. A joke. "Chinese fire drill". Even small nations plundered resources and land at will from them. It was a mess. But they got their act together and built a nation. It is a ungainly chimera but it could turn eventually into a functional union with greatly increased prosperity and satisfaction. A place and system people want to raise children in.

It isn't hard for me to imagine a story of how China became a functional democracy at the same time the US stopped being one.

Name: Art
System won't let me go with name and URL.

13 April, 2022 09:10  
Blogger Sixpence Notthewiser said...

Totally scary.
This will only make the warlords (the country probably has not changed much in the last three hundred years. They wear suits now, though) more rabid.
And it's something they'll find a way to overcome, probably by force. Terrifying.
Also, I love Art. I wanna have lunch with him/them.


13 April, 2022 15:17  
Blogger Green Eagle said...

I have to agree with Anonymous' analysis. Part of our miserable education in the US about foreign countries is that we were all taught to see China as a monolithic entity that has existed in pretty much its current form since time immemorial. As a result, most Americans can't conceive of the country fracturing or of its central government losing its grip on large parts of its territory; but that sort of thing would not be at all out of character with episodes in its history. We can see the economic progress that China has made in recent decades as a truly amazing phenomenon without believing that they are isolated from disasters that we may already see developing in their society.

I am not predicting total disaster for China in the future, but I do suspect that there are enough contradictions in what they have created that the image of China as the world's dominant country is likely to be vastly overblown.

13 April, 2022 15:24  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Granny: You won't see me objecting.

Art: Thanks for the thoughtful comment. By Western standards China really wouldn't be a single nation, even though it's a politically unified state. Mandarin and Cantonese seem to be as different as English and Dutch, and so are the other major variants of "Chinese".

The harsh tightening of controls under Xi Jinping was the first thing I thought of when the video mentioned the birth rate plummeting during the last five years. China is degenerating towards the North Korean model. To see things going that way after their hopes had been raised that things would get better, definitely would make people despair and feel that this is not a situation they want to have children in.

The persistence of the Chinese people and culture is consistent with the collapse of China as a centralized state -- as you obviously know, it's happened before (although there's a case to be made that the rise of communism destroyed much of Chinese culture). But China in any form will still be crippled by its low birth rates and its age structure top-heavy with elderly. If anything, the fall of the central government (if that happens) would tend to make the birth rate even worse due to chaos, while making the top-heavy age structure even harder to deal with.

I'm sorry the system wouldn't let you link a URL. If you have a blog, please feel free to post a link here or send one. I'd like to take a look at it.

Sixpence: I really doubt they will find a way to overcome these problems. The experience of Russia, China, and other authoritarian states shows that authoritarian regimes are incompetent, corrupt, and weak compared to democracies. They tend to address problems like these with exhortation and scolding, which never work. I suppose they could ban birth control and abortion to try to raise the birth rate, but this would provoke even more resentment, and people who just don't want to have children will always find ways to avoid doing so.

Green: Certainly most Americans are very ignorant about China. China's history shows a different pattern to the West's in that it shifts back and forth between fragmentation and a centralized unified state, whereas the West has only ever had two centralized unified states, both very long ago (Achaemenid Persia and the Roman Empire). But it certainly hasn't consistently been a monolith. The current fad for viewing China as an unstoppable juggernaut is just weird. It ignores mountains of evidence of China's innate weakness, as well as the consistent history of autocracies getting the crap kicked out of them when they go up against the US and allied democracies.

Well, in the 1980s the break-up of the USSR seemed inconceivable as well. We know how that worked out.

13 April, 2022 17:16  

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