China! China! China!

(DAMN IT!)

Okay, I'm a broken record. Okay, I'm obsessed. But what if I'm right? What if most of us are paying far too little attention to China? It's the "little" stories that are telling, the give-aways.

Consider a wee piece in the August 8th New York Times, "China in Africa: All Trade, With No Political Baggage." An included chart reveals that Chinese trade volume with Africa has quietly risen from $6 billion in 1999 to $19 billion in 2003 ... a three-fold (plus) increase in just four years. Not earth shattering, but clearly (to me) indicative of the ubiquity of China's expanding economic reach.

It recalls, at a broader level, a slide I just added to my PowerPoint palette, from a New York Times Magazine feature that, ironically (?), appeared on 4 July 2004. Thesis: "China's size does not merely enable low-cost manufacturing; it forces it. Increasingly, it is what Chinese businesses and consumers choose for themselves that determines how the American economy operates." Talk about strong language!

So, can you say in earnest, that you're as tuned in to China as you need/ought to be? (If you are among the nonchalant, at least you can claim to have heady company. The White House and the platforms of both parties are surely about 99 percent silent and 100 percent deficient on this issue.)