Is China a little girl or a big strapping lad?

By Du Yanghong
0 CommentsPrint E-mail, May 15, 2011
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But while Britain and America face financial distress, China's coffers are full to bursting. After having spent so long anxiously waiting for Western investment, China has now become a major exporter of capital. The day before Ma's interview was published, there were reports that China Investment Corporation would shortly receive a government cash injection between 100 and 200 billion US dollars, taking its total funds to between 400 and 500 billion US dollars. How many aircraft carriers could that build?

China's banks are also major overseas lenders. The Financial Times reported earlier this year that in 2009 – 2010, China's two major policy banks the China Development Bank and the Export Import Bank of China lent more to developing countries than the World Bank and its subsidiaries.

When last year's Greek debt crisis created social chaos, China stepped in with a major cash injection. And the Wall Street Journal reported Chinese Ambassador to the European Union Song Zhe as saying China would step up purchases of European government bonds.

When Chicago Mayor Richard Daly greeted Chairman Hu Jintao during his state visit to the US in January, Daly said he wanted Chicago to become "the most China-friendly city in the United States," and "a gateway for Chinese business investment into America." If the words sound familiar it is because senior Chinese officials used to use similar phrases to woo Western investors. The boot is on the other foot today.

While China, awash with cash, frets about where to invest its hundreds of billions, Ma Dingsheng wonders whether the country can afford a couple of aircraft carriers. It really is ridiculous.

Since 2008, thanks to its role in mitigating the effects of the financial crisis, China's voice has been listened to on the world stage, Having overtaken US industry, China is set to become the world leader in terms of GDP as a whole. The IMF recently said this will happen as soon as 2016 in PPP terms.

With its flourishing industry and bulging treasury, China is not so much a little girl, as Ma Dingsheng says, but a big strapping lad. If China was a little girl, we would have to say most other countries are tiny babies. And if we insist on saying China is a little girl, then an aircraft carrier is not a Hummer but a toy boat that she can happily play with.

The author is a writer and commentator in Beijing.

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of

(This post was written in Chinese and translated by John Sexton.)


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