At 3.7 million square miles, China's area is virtually identical to that of the United States. The U.S. population is 300 million. China's population is estimated at 1.5 billion. The official count is somewhat less. To control the birth rate, China reduces benefits to families having more than one child, including the withholding of schooling. During a census, many children are hidden to avoid government sanctions.
The Chinese have a preference for boys. Since families are only permitted one child, there are 117 boys born for every 100 girls. Using ultrasound and other technologies, many Chinese women abort female fetuses. Prior to the introduction of the new medical screening devices, female infanticide was common.
About 5 percent of the Chinese population identifies with any religion -- Christian, Buddhist or Muslim. The remaining 95 percent are officially atheist. China's religious and cultural persecution of Tibet's Buddhist population forced its leader, the Dalai Lama, and 100,000 of his followers to flee to India, despite Tibet's status as an autonomous region of China. In 1999 China outlawed the Falun Gong sect, a popular religious movement combining Buddhism and Taoism.
After more than a decade of civil war, on Oct. 1, 1949, Mao Zedong declared victory for his Soviet-supported Communist regime. In 1950, Mao sent troops into North Korea to assist in the capture of South Korea. The United States defended South Korea against this invasion. The conflict lasted until 1953 at a cost of 54,000 Americans dead and an additional 103,000 Americans wounded.
From 1954 until 1973, the U.S. was engaged in a war in Vietnam. Communist-led North Vietnam invaded the South with the support of Chinese armaments and technical assistance. The conflict in Vietnam resulted in more than 50,000 American casualties.
In an effort to appease China, President Nixon visited the country in 1972. President Carter announced diplomatic relations in 1979. By November 2001 under President George W. Bush, China was admitted to the World Trade Organization as a full trading partner.
Despite China's huge investment in industry, 50 percent of Chinese workers are engaged in agriculture. Those individuals farm primarily for their own needs. Many peasants have left the countryside to join the 22 percent of the labor force in industry. A factory job offers living quarters and a temporary-residence permit migrants need to stay out of jail. Workers are paid $24 a month and charged $16 a month for food and lodging in a crowded dorm. They are often physically abused aor fined for infractions like taking too long in the bathroom, walking too fast or talking back to managers.
Even for those individuals able to improve their position and save some money, the prospect of starting their own business is non-existent. China is ruled through political authoritarianism. There is no independent judiciary or contract law. All rules are established at the whim of the government. Those inclined to protest are subject to arrest and imprisonment. In 1989, as students occupied Beijing's Tiananmen Square calling for reforms, hundreds were shot dead by government troops and tanks.
Since the end of World War II in 1945, the United States has maintained a significant military presence on the Pacific island of Okinawa. Twenty thousand Marines are stationed there. Their primary purpose is to keep an eye on China's expansionist policies in the region, particularly with regard to Taiwan.
Our current annual trade deficit with China is in excess of $150 billion. This means they have $150 billion of our money to spend on their military, technology and infrastructure. We have a bunch of their useless junk.
Eli Fishman is the owner of Cape Shoe Co. in Cape Girardeau.