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News In Brief

On China and the global economy

Kai Ryssdal Jul 11, 2011

Every Wednesday at 3 o’clock, right after school, my kids have to do one of those things that falls under the general category of ‘You’re gonna do it ’cause Mom and Dad said you’re gonna do it’: an hour and a half of Chinese lessons. And yeah, part of that’s just us — we speak Chinese; we’ve lived and worked there. Our daughter’s Chinese.

But part of it’s just common sense. We’re planning for their economic future. Because by the time they grow up China’s driving the global economy. Whether it’s ready for it or not, says China analyst Jim McGregor.

“If you look at the world economy as a Broadway musical, and all the countries are up dancing on the stage, you’ve got America and Japan dancing in the front. China was always dancing in the back,” McGregor says. “And then one day, the global financial crisis happened, and China found itself dancing alone — everybody else collapsed. And so China started thinking, ‘well maybe I do dance better than everyone else.'”

There’s nothing quite like an international financial crisis to get you thinking about your place in the world. From politicians to CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, China’s on a lot of people’s minds right now.

It’s been five years since we took the show there (you can listen to those original broadcasts in our interactive feature), trying to wrap our heads around the pace of change in that country, and what that would mean for our shared economic fates.

So this week, the sounds and voices of — and about — a China five years later.

Our trip in 2006 to Shanghai on the coast and Chongqing, 900 miles out west in Sichuan Province, was all about what happens when a country changes so much so fast — the goods and the bads. The trip back, one financial crisis and a global recession later, it turns out to have been about the same thing. Just with much higher stakes for the rest of us. We’ll go back to our Chinese future on our website and in the broadcast today and all the rest of this week.

China: The Five-Year Plan
Explore our comprehensive coverage on-air and online. Updated all week.

INTERACTIVE: Postcards from China

Read the first-person reports I sent home from China each day during my two-week reporting trip, and view photos from the road.

VIDEO: China Survival Guide

Watch this collection of videos, hosted by me, with tips on how to survive China as a tourist or visitor.

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