My reader Soon sent me an email about this topic:
Singapore is a country rises from rags to riches and become the 3rd richest country in the world. A fervent autocratic and capitalist country. Can China repeats the same feat? Can you put this in your blog and let your readers debate? (more)
What is your thought? Here is mine.
Don’t Compare China and Singapore
With all the due respect to Singapore, I just don’t want to compare China and Singapore. You can compare Singapore and Shanghai, or Hong Kong, or we can compare a system, but on the macro level, Singapore and China may not be the good subject to compare.
Simply because of the scale of the two countries.
Singapore is a country (or a city) with 4 million population. Hong Kong is much bigger, 7 million, and Shanghai has 16 million local residents, and 19 million population in total. Besides there, there are many difference.
Free Trade Zone
Hong Kong and Singapore are very like each other, since they are free trade zones. Correct me if I am wrong since I know little about macro economy here. A free trade cannot be too large since it must has a relative small domestic economy. I have never seen a free trade zone as big as China. There are some free trade zones in China, like the one in Dalian, and Shanghai, but to include any city in China except Hong Kong, and Macau may not be feasible. Not only China, all other trade partners may not want it. A WTO is an attempt to archive some type of free trade, but it is still very far from free trade zones.
To rule a city of several million is of cause very different than ruling a bigger country. Having said that, I never want to use the population as an excuse to debate against democracy, or other political system. On the contrary, a big country actually needs more wisdom in political system, like the democracy system can be a good option (please note: I am not 100% sure, because it has never been tested in China in the last few thousands years). If we are still OK to have a centralized government to rule a city (which is fine, and maybe the only cost-effective way to do it), it is too hard for a bigger country, if you want to run it well. For example, I don’t want someone in Beijing to make decisions for me about what my children should believe. So, there is huge difference here between Singapore and China.
I don’t think China can be a millionaire country. I just want China to be a country without poverty or injustice. If money represents ownership of resources, it is not a big deal to the earth when everyone in Singapore is millionaire, but in China, that is impossible. I don’t know what it means for 1/4 of the worlds population to be millionaires. At that time, USD, or RM, or RMB, or EURO must have been hugely deflated. What I am saying is, I don’t envision everyone to be super rich in near future. To have everyone have a reasonable life (no starving), and receive education, and have clean water to drink are the most important mission for the people on this land.
Although I don’t think we can compare these two countries, Singapore’s success did give people inspiration. It is one of the few Asian countries to reach a very high level of economy success and social improvement. I visited Singapore in 2000, and many things I saw became real in Shanghai. For example, I took the subway to take the ring ride in Singapore, and reached the far north (near the Malaysia entrance), and impressed by people living far away from downtown but can still conveniently go to work. Now the same place appeared in Shanghai. It is called Xinzhuang.