Should your children be learning Mandarin?

A little nugget of information leapt out at me while wading through the reams of smooth-tongued copy about the G20 summit.

"China, which has been pushing for more say in the governance of global institutions at the expense of Europe, has already signalled that it may be willing to pour billions of dollars into the IMF to help developing economies stricken by the crisis"

(The Times)

The reason it leapt out was this: What will the influence of China be on the rest of the world in 50 or 100 years time? Could it be that the economic revolution China has undergone in the last 20 or 30 years, spiral into world conquest?

Right now, we seem to have forgotten how global hegemony has shifted over the centuries. Perhaps the era of Western European domination is coming to an end? The United States has more or less been the number one world superpower since the middle of the last century, but it is moribund. Russia is all fur coat and no knickers, but with a capacity to annihilate us, so they get a bigger shout than they deserve. But the economy - it is the economy that calls the tune, and China has a lot of it.

Economies appear to expand and contract exponentially, as do power bases. It happened to the Roman Empire: It covered most of the known world at one point and then collapsed within a little over 100 years. The British Empire was the largest in history with dominion of over one quarter of the world's population and lasted for four centuries. All of this at a time when communications and trade were at the mercy of the wind. By the end of the Second World War, the British Empire was a White Dwarf in the galaxy.

Two consequences of these major appropriations of the globe both had one very important result. It led to Latin first and then English being the most used language of the commercial, civilised portion of the globe.

I wonder. When we see the rise of China and its growing economic impact world wide, does this mean that in a hundred or two hundred years we shall all be speaking Mandarin?

1 comment:

Jim Baxter said...

I reckon so. History, as you say, is the key. If you want to read the future, read the past. Areas of economic activity have a habit of gradually pricing and legislating themselves out of the market. Legislators keep legislating until a society becomes torpid and introspective, concerned with 'rights' and 'health and safety', living on the crumbling legacy of its bold and adventurous times. That's where we in the west are now.