Megatrends Book Summary, by Doris Naisbitt, John Naisbitt

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“Pillar 1: Emancipation of the Mind”

Modern China has eight pillars that led to its success. The first is the end of doctrinaire thinking, which was started by Deng Xiaoping in 1978 when he took power after the chaos of the Cultural Revolution. He realized that restricting ideas and people’s freedom would only harm society. Instead, he allowed farmers to take charge over their land and sell crops individually, as well as other reforms.

China is a country that has been ruled by authoritarian governments. It’s also had communal property for decades, which led to people not taking chances or innovating. However, there have been some changes in the past few years; reforms were made and unprofitable state-owned enterprises were privatized. China then built a modern financial system and reevaluated Mao Zedong’s legacy (his achievements as well as his mistakes). Now he isn’t seen as infallible anymore but rather more ambiguous.

By the end of the 1990s, China was handling IPOs and M&As. They were in crisis mode and didn’t have time to do polls. Today’s thriving economy is a testament to how far they’ve come from totalitarianism.

“Pillar 2: Balancing Top-Down and Bottom-Up”

The Chinese are not aiming for Western-style democracy. Instead, they’re building a system that has the ability to preserve freedom and order. This new system is built around an orderly hierarchy of leadership and communication from bottom up.

For thousands of years, China had a feudal culture that suppressed any expression of unconventional ideas. Then, in 1978, Deng gave a speech about the need to emancipate minds and seek truth from facts. This led to economic modernization and freedom for farmers to become entrepreneurs. While this was liberating for many Chinese people, it didn’t extend into elections or allowing the public more power over leaders—the government ensured stability through results-based legitimacy instead.

The absence of voting for leaders allows them to plan long term, and not focus on the next election. China is starting to experiment with village elections, but they will be different from Western democracies. The Chinese government pays attention to public opinion surveys about women’s rights and corruption issues.

“Pillar 3: Framing the Forest and Letting the Trees Grow”

Mao wanted everyone to be the same. He was against diversity, but Deng realized that China had to change in order for it to succeed. Westerners were pushing China to become a more Westernized country, but they didn’t understand that China would become its own kind of place and grow at its own pace. The Chinese people have been given more freedom because of this new framework; however, they are still growing as individuals and being creative with their wealth.

Deng recognized the damage caused by Mao’s class struggle theory and the importance of economic emancipation. China’s goal was to double its GDP by 1990 and redouble it by 2000. The Chinese government wanted to “complete modernization” in the first half of the 21st century. To achieve these goals, China had a clear public objective that they were able to meet: their GDP increased from $309 billion in 1980 up to $1.2 trillion in 2000

China plans for the future. It will maintain its power and position, but there may be some political changes in the party system. China’s military strategy is to prepare for defense without territorial expansionism. Economically, it wants to become a world leader in innovation and solve its environmental problems.

The author draws on China’s history of strategic wisdom, which has resulted in the pursuit of economic progress. The government has granted people freedom to find their own means of achieving that objective while experimenting with new policies and structures. They’ve also noticed the need for rural shopping centers and have invested in improving the general shopping experience. Deng established special economic zones that have become metropolises such as Shenzhen, near Hong Kong; it was a fishing village before 1979 but now is home to 10 million people.

China is experimenting with solutions to problems involving state-owned enterprises (SOEs). A typical SOE, Haier Group Company, used to be an appliance manufacturer but is now successful due to its transformation into a private company and its international status at business schools such as Harvard University.

China’s press isn’t free, but it is diverse and often draws sophisticated readers. The Internet has issues with censorship, but the Chinese have learned to use it as a way of communicating with their government.

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“Pillar 5: Artistic and Intellectual Ferment”

In the arts, new forms of art will arise that are innovative and original. Chinese artists have risen to prominence in the global artistic community by being very creative. China has more than a dozen painters whose works sell for $1 million or more. Chinese architects have also become innovators who design buildings with unique features. Many people from China go abroad to study at foreign universities and then return home because they want to contribute their ideas to help change China’s future. They form organizations such as the Western Returned Scholars Association which helps lead this transformation process.

Classical music is alive and well in China. In fact, it’s so popular that Lorin Maazel, the conductor of the New York Philharmonic, said that China could be one of the most important defenders of classical music. The country has several symphonies and other forms of classical music as well as ballets, operas and avant-garde dramas which play to sellout crowds in major cities throughout the country. Cinema is also flourishing there with many people writing books, singing songs or creating photographs or art on a regular basis. Even farmers are getting into this trend by writing poems or stories along with taking up photography or painting pictures on their own time.

“Pillar 6: Joining the World”

Despite its critics, China has made substantial steps toward taking its rightful place in the world. Its infrastructure is top-notch and much better than other countries’ infrastructure. For example, China’s airlines have gone from being the most dangerous to the safest in the world because of their stringent safety standards. They’re even safer than U.S./European carriers! Additionally, China is now a magnet for foreign investment and a major player when it comes to investing overseas itself (foreign direct investment). Because they’ve devolved enough power down to provincial levels, many provinces are making deals with foreign investors on their own accord rather than waiting for approval from Beijing first. The U.S., which used to be wary of China’s growing influence in Asia, increasingly sees them as strategic allies instead of rivals; however there are still some issues that need ironing out such as exchange rates between Chinese yuan and American dollars (which can fluctuate wildly). Some experts have suggested an all-encompassing summit between only America and China but this would not be good since it would leave out other important nations like Japan or Korea who also play key roles in international relations today. Instead,China prefers engaging more widely by getting involved with Latin America as well as Africa where they build up infrastructure projects while getting long term supplies of resources back home such as oil/natural gas etc. Westerners often criticize what they see happening in Africa but people should realize that African countries want development just like everyone else does.

“Pillar 7: Freedom and Fairness”

China’s leaders face a dilemma. They want to create social equity, but they also want to promote economic growth. The reformers led by Deng Xiaoping said that people who get rich first should help the rest of society become wealthy as well. To do this, China has made education a priority and is trying to provide its citizens with better health care. However, not everyone in China is equal economically; there are still large differences between urban and rural areas when it comes to living standards. Some entrepreneurs who have established successful businesses overseas are returning home because they see more opportunities for growth in China than elsewhere in the world. In 2008, half of all Chinese households were considered “wealthy,” which means they had access to luxury goods like cars or homes worth over $200k USD each (4 years earlier). These changes mean that some people need government assistance so that they can reach middle-class status while others don’t need any help at all because their businesses are doing so well.

“Pillar 8: From Olympic Gold Medals to Nobel Prizes”

The 2008 Summer Olympics were held in Beijing, China. It was a huge event that showcased the country’s social and economic development. The Chinese government has made innovation a priority because it recognizes the importance of intellectual capital. High-technology industries are emerging in China and seem likely to succeed, such as aircrafts, electric cars and robotics. While China may not win Nobel Prizes tomorrow, its achievements should certainly gain acknowledgment from the world.

This passage is mostly positive and optimistic about China. Many people think that China has a lot of problems, but the author thinks that it’s not as bad as many people make it out to be. The Chinese government is making progress on issues like Tibet and Taiwan, which are controversial in the West. Ultimately, though, they’ll do what works for them; we shouldn’t impose our values on them or criticize their decisions based on our beliefs.

Megatrends Book Summary, by Doris Naisbitt, John Naisbitt
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