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China's Youth Unemployment Rate
I’m fascinated with China.
In many ways, the Han Chinese are the most successful civilization in history. The many Chinese dynasties have a long history of rule, beautiful art, advancements in healthcare, technology, agriculture, and culture. It’s easy to make the argument in favor of China being the world’s most successful power in world history.
In contrast, there is just as strong an argument to say that China is a continuous failed state. With exception to The Tang Dynasty, China has never actually been a superpower because it has never lasted long enough to be as such. China has a long history of imperialist dynasties that collapsed on themselves and have created some of the darkest periods of intense human suffering.
Quite the duality.
Many of the reasons for China’s boom and bust pattern is it’s geography. It has some of the worst farmland in the world, is surrounded by the Himalayans to the south, and is engulfed by the Eurasian step to the west and the north. Then of course to the east, it has ocean that is surrounded by the pacific island chain. Most notably is Japan, who also has a long history of conflict with China. Most of the times, Japan wins these conflicts.
There’s nowhere for the Chinese to go.
Obviously, this is extremally oversimplified, and the history of how geography creates this cycle of boom and bust in China is very fascinating.
This brings us to the modern day. Once again, China’s geography creates some nuanced yet potentially catastrophic problems.
The industrial boom of the last century is a moment in time. It only exists because the United States and other Western countries decided to transition their economies to information and service economies and outsourcing manufacturing to East Asia.
China is a net importer of 80% of it’s food. It is also a net importer of 80& of it’s energy. Since China is at the end of the shipping route, almost all the oil that goes to China through the person gulf goes through one of two straights, mostly through the straight of Malacca.
This is just one example of how the industrialism of China is on a knifes edge. The manufacturing economy is not as robust as it seems. Most of it has been built on a model of hyper financing, and a real estate bubble that makes the 2008 crisis look like a rounding error. There is so much that could go wrong in China’s manufacturing.
The young people in China recognize this. They know that the factory work in China is disappearing, and when that happens, there is a strong case to be made that it will turn China into a failed state. The numbers are pretty terrifying.
As such, the young people in China WANT to develop skills for the 21st century. But, the imperialist culture in China is still embedded into the government. Unfortunately, free thought and self expression is not permitted, at least not from the sense that would potentially separate the flow of ideas and individuality away from the government.
The new numbers on China’s youth unemployment are really scary. Like … REALLY scary. The demography of China is near collapse. They have half as many 5 year old’s as they do 10 year old’s. Now, 1/4 of the young people in China aren’t working.
I worry a lot about China. I worry from a personal standpoint, because Chinese culture is beautiful and they are a people that I’ve always been fascinated with and enamored by. I also worry about China from a pragmatic standpoint, because the collapse of China would be devastating. It would certainly have rippling effects in the world economy, but the pain felt inside China would be a human crisis like never before.
I’m catastrophizing, I know. I have no idea what is going to happen. But the numbers, don’t look good.
They really don’t.