2050: A Chinese odyssey
The global economy is unraveling so fast right now that it can be hard to think beyond the immediate future. Troubles in the euro zone are shaking global markets like a dead rat, and even China’s economic prospects are now in question. Add to that the endless supply of real news, fake news, and internet schadenfreude we swim in each day, and our little noggins are just full. But some among us still have the wherewithal to look beyond all the noise to the distant future – trying to forecast, for example, what China look like in 2050. One utopian school of thought has it that, after eradicating poverty, Jiang Zemin will use the dark crystal of scientific development to transport the Chinese people to a higher plane of existence. This is something like the Rapture, except that instead of hanging out in heaven the Chinese will be relaxing next to their pools in Orange County and instilling equal opportunity on the moon. At that point, us laowais will be left to fend for ourselves, as shown clearly in this series of photos from the future. We laowais, inventors of glorious things like the rule of law and drive-thrus, will reduced to driving tuk-tuks! And judging from the photos, we will also be sorely in need of a snack. But hey, we can think of worse fates for struggling Western workers. With China’s urban wages climbing nearly 20% per year, proud Westerners could soon be jostling for jobs chopping Chinese hedges.
Terracotta warriors v Iranian ayatollahs
Brilliant but tragically misguided. You’re thinking of the Green Power Ranger, Gertrude Bell’s travelogues or maybe the “whiz kids” in David Halberstam’s Best and Brightest. But we’re thinking of the Qin Shi Emperor (or Ying Zheng, for those with the impudence to assume familiarity). Chinese archeologists announced this week they had unearthed 100 more of his Terracotta warriors. Qin Shi was (probably) correct to calculate he needed more than the existing 8,000 soldiers to protect him in the afterlife. But he made one fatal error: If you look closely, the army is actually made of clay, rendering them defenseless against rebels in this life (who, in fact, destroyed them). A seemingly simple oversight, but to be fair to Qin Shi, we’ve seen some gamers at Chinese internet cafes make the same mistake – magical powers online will not, in fact, protect you offline. Speaking of countries whose online battles do spill over into real life, the US has conspicuously left China off its list of countries it won’t slap with sanctions for trading with Iran. Remember in Q1 when China’s imports of Iranian oil were plummeting? Who could have predicted China was really just trying to negotiate better prices out of the Iranians? Answer: us. Of course, Iran does have a chance to get revenge for being nickeled and dimed in the afterlife. You’d think they have something of an advantage, being fatwa-wielding ayatollahs and all, but China now has 8,100 Terracotta Warriors. No prediction from us on that one.