If anyone is interested in seeing how much social and economic progress China has made in the past three decades, consider these "free trade" remarks that Mao made to Henry Kissenger in 1973. According to CNN, during a meeting to discuss trade between the two countries, Mao "made what U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger called a novel proposition: sending tens of thousands, even 10 million, Chinese women to the United States." Quoting a translation of Mao from his meeting, Kissinger attributes the following passage: "You know, China is a very poor country ... We don't have much. What we have in excess is women. So if you want them we can give a few of those to you, some tens of thousands ... We can give you 10 million." You can almost see Kissinger politely offering up his response through an interpreter: "It is such a novel proposition ... We will have to study it."
While it's true that corruption is still part of much Chinese business culture -- manufacturers, trading companies, and others involved in the export market will quietly tell trusted third parties outside the country about what handouts government officials expect -- it's clear to me hearing words like this just how far China has come in just over thirty years. Moving from wanting to export 10 million women to becoming the poster child for global sourcing in less than a generation, China's growth story is miraculous indeed (even if the fairy tale contains a few thousand executions, some lead poisoning, and sporadic power outages along the way).
- Jason Busch