This article was originally pitched to It was on its way to publication when I accidentally insulted the senior editor, who booted the pitch in retaliation. Needless to say, I was mad. But, there's no point in letting a good idea like this go to waste. I'm republishing it because the article was already in decent shape. As a side note, I didn't spend two weeks of intensive editing on this article like I did for my last one for Cracked... but whatever. It's still pretty interesting. At least I think so.



6 Reasons China Won't Destroy the World

These days it seems like you can't go ten minutes of watching the news without hearing about how awesome the Chinese are and how their economy is growing to approximately the size of Godzilla. Shockingly, people are freaking out about China's newfound power. However, what they tend to forget is that the global economy is not simple and that if anything, China is in some pretty deep sh*t. They too exist in the real world, and reality always comes with problems. The media never likes to talk about things like...

#1- Their tsunami wave of old people

The Myth:

"Oh my god! China has so many people and they all want to work hard! They're INVINCIBLE!!!"

The Reality:

China has a lot of people. When your population is over a billion strong, that means you have plenty of people to work the factories making DVD players and toxic kids' toys. However, all of those people will get old and retire one day. Other then raising an army of Wal-Mart greeters, what do you do with them? China clearly has no idea, because they lack any kind of Social Security or retirement system. And of course, that's the one thing they really, really need because a third of all Chinese people will be over sixty by 2050. In the United States, it's 17.4%. Plus, with the one child per family policy, that means the next generation of Chinese workers will have to support both their parents by themselves on a tiny salary. That's a lot of old Chinese people who are going to be more screwed than the space program.

#2- The guys aren't getting any

The Myth:

"China has their population under control. That one child stuff is pretty rough, but it works, right?"

The Reality:

Remember that one child per family policy I mentioned? When some Chinese families heard that news, their first thought was "Oh sh*t, we'd better get a boy." Boys can carry on the family name and care for their parents more than girls, who are supposed to raise the children. Sexist, yes, but that's how they think over there. The result is that China has an awful gender imbalance and has some 32 million more boys than girls. Although the practice is illegal over there, some Chinese families use ultrasounds to determine their baby's gender and selectively abort until they get a boy. Thus the current gender imbalance. And of course, Chinese women are only getting pickier about marriage- they're focusing on their careers because they have parents to support.

"Marriage? Bahahaha! Seriously though, my family doesn't eat without me."

OK, so the guys might have to go without getting some action. What's the big deal? Fewer ladies who are less inclined to get married means that they won't have as many kids. Fewer kids means that the Glorious People's Republic will have fewer workers in the future. And then where will the world get its supply of acidic flip-flops?

#3- They don't actually control the US through debt.

The Myth:

"Oh my God, the Chinese own us! If they stop buying our bonds, then we're f*cked and the government will explode because they own all our debt! Their leader dude is going to start dictating our laws and he's going to KILL US ALL!!! Run for the bunker!"

The Reality:

According to the US Treasury website, the total debt of the United States is not owed entirely to China. In fact, they only own about 7.8% of all our debt. Who owns the rest? Most of it is owed to... ourselves, aka the Federal Reserve. No, I have no idea how the government is allowed to lend money to itself. Foreign ownership includes a lot of countries you wouldn't necessarily expect, like Japan, the United Kingdom, Brazil, and Lichtenstein. You probably can't even find Lichtenstein on a map.

For reference, this is it.

But what if China starts selling off the debt they own? We're screwed, right? Not exactly. China's economy strongly relies on exports ($155 billion a month). Chinese goods are popular because they're cheap to make. The exact reasons why they can crank out DVD players and recycled condoms so cheaply get technical, but are due largely to their currency's low value. Because of economic differences between their money (the renminbi) and our money (the dollar), anything the Chinese sell in America automatically makes a nice profit. How do they keep their money (and export cost) so low? By buying sh*tloads of US Treasury bonds, aka our debt. If they want to keep making all that money exporting sh*t, they have to keep their currency low. If they want to keep their currency low, they have to buy our debt. The Chinese don't get a choice.

#4- They won't reach Godzilla-height

The Myth:

"China has been growing for years! Soon enough their economy will surpass America's and they'll be the new superpower! Then they'll challenge us to a war and then we'll fire nukes and we're doooooooooooomed!!!"

The Reality:

China's growth rate over the years has been pretty impressive, but the problem is that it's too big to continue. Seriously, even their leader, Premier Wen Jiabo, said that China's growth was "unstable, unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable." The Chinese are pretty worried about it too, as their insane growth may have caused their own housing bubble, complete with 800% real estate price inflation and everything.

$95,000. Hey, it's in a good school district.

The problem is that China has grown by 8% every year. That's pretty awesome for a whole country, except for the fact that it's not entirely legit. Turns out that a lot of that growth was based off the Chinese government investing in itself. It basically started public works projects (roads, bridges, ports, etc) to boost national growth. You invest in a road because it will hopefully pay itself back in economic growth (people travel faster, cut prices, make more money, pay more taxes). However, some Chinese economists estimate that these little projects China is so fond of haven't helped the economy at all, but have left them with up to 50% losses. Thy built all this cool *** like airports and roads but they actually have too much stuff for anyone to use.

Their growth is reliant on investment in public works. The Chinese government invested too much (seriously, 50% of their GDP). Not enough people use the stuff. If the stuff (bridges and sh*t) doesn't get used, economic growth doesn't happen. Thus, China invests in nothing. And of course it's predicted to seriously bite them in the ass.

#5- Chinese people drink water too

The Myth:

"Man, Chinese people are organized. I wish America had their logistical skills. China's perfect."

The Reality:

One of the rather serious downsides of having a massive population and 40% of your people in dry northern China is that there's a pretty huge demand for water. Unfortunately, China can't get enough water fast enough to their people for stuff like household use and agriculture. They're trying, though... and by that I mean they're damming up so many rivers that countries downstream of them aren't getting enough and the environmentalists are getting seriously pissed. Without water, what happens to all the people that need it? Do you cut off household use? Stop farming? Tell the dolphins to swim through air? They better figure out the answer quickly, because the World Bank says it'll f*ck over millions of Chinese if they don't do something soon.

#6- Your account balance is zero

The Myth:


The Reality:

China isn't real big on actually sharing their information, but from what we can gather, their banks have been kinda f*cking with us. Chinese banks lend out money, just like every other bank. However, they might have accidentally lent out too much. If a person can't pay back a bank loan, the loan is considered "non-performing" because the bank doesn't get anything back. Loans, like strippers, are considered useless if they don't put out. China's banks lent out so much in the last couple years that although they admit to having a low rate (5%) of loans that don't get paid back, outsiders estimate that the real number is somewhere around 30%.

"Screw you guys over? Never."

So some Chinese people can't pay back their loans. What's the worst that could happen? Nothing, as long as thirty percent of the country is fine with losing their money, which they so diligently store in the central banks. But hey, it's just their life savings.