China makes, the world takes

The Atlantic has a great article by James Fallows this month called China Makes, the World Takes. Unfortunately it’s behind a subscription wall. But there is a free slideshow narrated by Fallows which pretty much gives you the gist of the article. In a nutshell: China’s manufacturing output is stupefyingly vast, but not only that, the Chinese work hard, they work fast, they’re more modern than you think, and they’re smarter than you are. So quit whining and be gracious when they zoom by… it’ll do you a world of good in the future. Among other observations, Fallows calls out this telling fact about our mutual trade. The Chinese send us almost every manufactured item you care to name. In return, we send those same ships back filled with… scrap metal and scrap paper. Which one is the developed economy?

The narrated slideshow was a nice touch. It’s fun watching newspapers and magazines branch out into other media. You can watch wacky videos at the New York Times and listen to audio dispatches from the Washington Post. Maybe they’ll have some fun as they slide into oblivion.

6 thoughts on “China makes, the world takes”

  1. Hey, that reminds me of my new favorite most-annoying snowclone: “not so much”, as used in phrases like “At first everybody thought Stalin was the bee’s knees, but later on, not so much.”

    Or perhaps this: “The ironic use of snowclones was amusing for a while, but by the fourth comment, not so much.”

  2. I admit it pushes the boundary of the form, but my new favorite snowclone is this one, which is a great way to succinctly describe a situation requiring a tough trade-off of priorities:

    “You can X, Y, or Z. Pick two.”

    In the world of product development, especially for a demanding government customer, there is:
    “You can have it fast, cheap, or high quality. Pick two.”

    A friend who just finished journalism school recently noted the choices the student faces:
    “You can get good grades, have a social life, or sleep. Pick two.”

    And finally, here’s a particularly meaty and provocative example. I recently read the following distillation of the geopolitical choices faced by Israel (mainly due to the demographic pressure presented by the high Palestinian birth rate):
    “You can keep the occupied territories, remain a democracy, or remain a Jewish state. Pick two.”

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