Thursday, May 01, 2008

7 years to Learn Mandarin?

Much like the idiotic pronouncements we would need to learn Japanese a few decades ago? From CNN/Fortune:

But a recent study by the economist Angus Maddison projects that China will become the world's dominant economic superpower much sooner than expected - not in 2050, but in 2015.
I get that sensational pronouncements get the pageviews but color me skeptical. While China's growth has been phenomenal, it has an incredible way to go (clamping down on free speech also means clamping down on innovation, not to mention a bankrupt banking system, inability for state run apparatus to forecast water and energy needs, and the list goes on and on and on). China's government has the ability to navigate the obstacles to achieve the momentum to get there at least for a few decades (presuming they stay in power). Don't get me wrong - I think learning mandarin (and many other languages) might be a good thing but it's going to hardly be critical.

English will continue to be the lingua franca of business simply because it will continue to be the English speaking world that drives the bulk of value through innovation in the world (no Jacques, French is no longer particularly relevant).

PS Today is the labour day that the commies celebrate so our offices are closed in Hong Kong and China for the rest of the week celebrating one of China's "Golden Weeks".

No comments: