n.34 February 2011

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China is now one of the world’s leading economies. Its growth between 2000-2010 has outstripped any other nation. Beijing must now decide how to manage its international status. Will it press ahead with state control and targeted protectionism or open its doors to collaborating with the United States and the European Union? The answer to this critical question is likely to determine the face and shape of the global economy for decades to come.

China has surpassed the United States in annual college graduates. Most students travel from rural homes to study in urban universities. But with jobs often reserved for country’s elite, many graduates can’t find work. In an effort to give these educated drifters a new sense of purpose, the Chinese government is promoting incentives to try to entice graduates back to the countryside where they can help bolster a weak educational system.

China has gradually and meticulously developed a strategy of mining and refining so-called rare earth. Domestic mines located in Inner Mongolia and foreign ones in Africa and Central Asia have seen Beijing become the world’s dominant exporter of minerals that are a fundamental part of the world’s high-tech and environmental industry. But as the world’s appetite has grown, China’s willingness to sell has slacked off, creating newfound tension in a vital sector that few take the time to discuss.