Wed | Mar 21, 2018

Egerton Chang | The gall of it all; and China leads

Published:Sunday | November 26, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Police personnel walk by a portrait of Dr Shane Alexis in the empty constituency office in Annotto Bay. Alexis, a Canadian, stoked controversy because he was nominated by the PNP to run in South East St Mary despite not being a citizen of Jamaica.
China's rise has been meteoric over the past three decades, including under the current president, Xi Jinping.

Who fi vex, vex.

I am not an ardent supporter of any party, though I must confess, like most everyone else, I lean towards one.

However, I have not voted in any election for well over 20 years as in any case, my better half supports the other party, and so any vote would be negated by hers.

But, just as I feel my blood boil with virtually every tweet by Trump, I almost burst a blood vessel to know that one of the political parties recently nominated someone who is/was not even a citizen of Jamaica to become a member of Parliament.

One is not disqualified from the Jamaican Parliament if he/she has citizenship of another country by birth. Further, according to our Constitution, a person is not disqualified if he/she has dual citizenship and the non-Jamaican citizenship was gained without pledging foreign allegiance.

In fact, the Jamaican Constitution is so complaisant (and ridiculous) that persons who are citizens of the Commonwealth can hold positions in our Parliament.

Just because there is a flaw/loophole in the Jamaican Constitution that allows a person who is not a Jamaican citizen but who is born within the Commonwealth to become a member of Parliament for Jamaica doesn't mean one should exploit it.

How is that much different from keeping cash that you just saw fall from a person's pocket? Or Trump proclaiming, "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose any voters?"

And what can be said about the party machinery that selected him in the first place? At best, one would have to conclude that they were careless (care less, as in couldn't care less) in the first place.

Wouldn't it have been better for them to have selected a worthwhile Jamaican citizen? Or is it that they could not find any?

I feel kicked in the face.

Yet, what can be said of the candidate himself?

From all accounts, he has lived in Jamaica for the majority of his life. Therefore, he must have been familiar with the big ruckus about the dual-citizenship situation, and, specifically, about the case of Abe Dabdoub v Daryl Vaz in the 2007 general election, which set the precedent for by-elections in four dual-citizenship cases.

Sure, he may have had dual citizenship, but none for Jamaica.

Now, I had formed a very favourable impression of the said candidate and his work from hearing and reading about him in the news over the years, but now, I would have to question his probity, particularly in this case.

Still, I hope he will continue to serve the Jamaican people, like so many other expatriates.

But, as I said, it was care less and galling.

China Leading

When I was a child (1950s), my brothers and I were admonished with, "Eat up yu food. Yu know how many million children starving in China?"

Well today, that has changed dramatically. While it may be that there may still be pockets of hungry people in China, there are certainly no "million children starving" there.

In fact, by 2030, China will be the largest economy, surpassing the US. And by 2050, India is also predicted to pass the US by this measure.

While this might be a revelation, it is not so surprising. After all, GDP is basically just population times productivity.

With populations of more than four times that of America, all these countries have to achieve is just one quarter of the US's productivity to surpass it.

Yet, that is an achievement in its own right as the average productivity of both China and India was less than one-tenth of the US up to only 30 years ago.

According to the World Bank, more than 500 million people were lifted out of extreme poverty as China's poverty rate fell from 88 per cent in 1981 to 6.5 per cent in 2012, as measured by the percentage of people living on the equivalent of US$1.90 or less per day in 2011 purchasing price parity terms.

If one assumes average growth rate of 6.5% per annum for China and 2% per annum for the US (which approximates recent growth rates of each of these countries), China will become the number one economy by 2028, just under 11 years from now.


Engine of growth


The sheer size of China's population and its relatively high growth rate means that it contributed almost one-third (actually 30 per cent) of total global growth last year (IMF).

China is not only muscling out the US, but is deprecating the contribution of Europe and Japan as the world's dominant engine of growth.

2016 - Share of world economy 

United States China 

24.7%             14.9%


Largest Trading Nation


China's exporting adroitness and skill has seen it become the leading trading nation, surpassing even the United States.

2016 - World trade

United States China

$3,580b $3,815b


Yet, the average Chinese has only one-third the purchasing power of an American, even when one adjusts for price difference by using purchasing power parity.

The fact that China now has about the same proportion of urban dwellers as the US did at the beginning of WWII means that the fuel for growth is still present as further urbanisation will become the stock for growth for decades to come.

This is especially true as the economy is transformed to a more market-driven one in which services and consumption play a greater part.

The increased purchasing power of these rural folks moving to the cities will add the purchasing power equivalent to the entire European Union block.

But this will only mean that China will be claiming back her dominant position, which she has occupied for all except the last two of the past centuries.

To give some idea of the relative standard of living for the average Chinese vs the average Jamaican:

CHINA -- GDP per capita $8,481 (nominal; 2017)

JAMAICA - GDP per capita $9,199 (2012 est.)

By the year 2020, the GDP per capital will be approximately level. On a purchasing power parity basis, the average Chinese already has a higher standard of living than the average Jamaican.

While the 20th century belonged to America, it is likely that the 21st could very well be China's.

With thanks to Malcolm Scott and Cedric Sam from whose work Here's How Fast China's Economy Is Catching Up to the US. (Bloomberg) updated November 6, 2017, some of the above have been taken.

- Egerton Chang is a businessman. Email feedback to and