On the eve of the Beijing Olympics, I'm thinking about the potential, and the potential liability, that China represents to the world.
On one hand, the country may continue its gradual upwards growth and opening motion, and become a responsible player on the world stage and in the global marketplace -- perhaps becoming the world's largest economy by the second or third decade of this century.
On the other hand? Continued clampdown, and not just on dissidents, bloggers and Tibetans -- one of the most disturbing things I've read recently came from last week's LA Times blog, and concerns the muzzling of the domestic finance industry:
"With the Olympic Games looming, China's equivalent of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has warned domestic money managers against any public statements that might be construed as negative toward the already deeply depressed stock market, reports Don Straszheim, a China expert at Roth Capital Partners in Newport Beach.
Fund company executives, fund managers and other important staff should be very careful about their speeches and blog content which may cause market fluctuations," the China Securities Regulatory Commission advised.
"Stability is the top priority of the regulator and everything that the regulator does is just for the sake of a harmonious and successful Olympic Games," it said."
Like the Chinese regulators, I too hope for a harmonious and successful Olympic Games. And I don't really feel that we in the U.S. are in any position to comment, seeing as our own markets have some distressing socialist characteristics themselves (especially the financial sector). However, I hope that the crackdown on "financial speech" doesn't continue post-Olympic games, as it will discourage investment and the continued progress of the citizenry out of poverty and into the global village.
So, in the spirit of Olympic brotherhood -- here's to harmony, and mutual prosperity, and may China continue to grow in stability and openness as the years progress.