27 September, 2006

The Silk Road To and From China

I have always had this great admiration for China. China, that great nation which, very rarely has colonised others or has had imperialistic tendencies; China, the country that has had two of the World's greatest leaders of the last century: Mao Tse-tung and Deng Xiaoping; leaders, who not only greatly shaped their own countries but the whole World at large. And China, that's now rapidly becoming the World's leading economic center and power house.

'China isn't a country - it's a different world'; a world of almost one and a quarter billion people - that's one sixth of the World's population. And yet, even with that huge population, it has managed to have one of the fastest growing economies in the World; too fast for comfort! What is amazing, is that: China, even with the enormous population that it has - continues to be one of the largest exporter countries of the World; it would be understandable for it to export other kinds of manufactured goods - but, it exports large quantities of food products too!

Here in Hadhramout in particular, and in Yemen in general; Chinese products have overwhelmed the markets; just as they have in other countries. From garments to cereals; from electronic goods to pharmaceuticals; from cosmetics to autos - 'Made in China' - is every where!

Just a few years ago, it wasn't so; but now, Chinese products rule. And they are cheap! And the quality of the products is fast improving. But, it's the incredible low price of the products that continues to draw people to 'Made in China'. Note: it's not only in manufactured goods that China is overwhelming; Chinese companies and investments, too, of all kinds, are spreading fast to all corners of the Earth.

How the prices for Chinese made products can be so low, is very hard to imagine or comprehend! For instance, here: Chinese stylishly made motorcycles, cost from as low as the equivalent of 1,000 US$; children's tricycles cost as low as the equivalent of 25 US$. It's hard to comprehend this! Consider the production costs; the transport costs and all other costs involved - it's very hard to understand how these products can be so cheap! Some, might argue that Chinese made products aren't of good quality or aren't durable; still, they serve and satisfy millions of people world wide. Including the people of Hadhramout.

Hadhrami and other Yemeni, merchants are now flocking to China in droves; just as people from other countries, far and near, are. And just as they, the Chinese themselves - are moving out in droves in to other countries, to spread the 'Made in China' magic!