Friday, September 22, 2006

Long-term national strategies

Recently I was discussing national strategies with someone, & we got to talking about China. China is doing a great deal of work -- public building, etc -- in South America. We thought that it was interesting that China seems to have a strategy of getting into underdeveloped countries and providing help in terms of facilities, engineering, etc. And, they focus on countries that are fairly stable; they're not looking at Iraq or the Sudan; if the security situation becomes too much, they pull out. Plain and simple.

Interesting article in today's Washington Post about learning to speak Chinese in South America:
Elizabeth Zamora is a busy mother and executive. Still, for three hours every Saturday, she slides into a battered wooden desk at Bogota's National University and follows along as Yuan Juhua, a language instructor sent here by China's government, teaches the intricacies of Mandarin.

Zamora already speaks German and English, but she struggles to learn written Chinese characters and mimic tones unknown in Spanish. She persists for a simple reason: China is voraciously scouring Latin America for everything from oil to lumber, and there is money to be made. That prospect has not only Zamora but business people in much of Latin America flocking to learn the Chinese language, increasingly heard in boardrooms and on executive junkets.
I think, perhaps, China has the right strategy. And where the %^&* are we?

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