How Did China Cause the Egyptian Revolution?

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A great article on The New York Times, “China, Twitter and 20-Year-Olds vs. the Pyramids” by Thomas L. Friedman explains that the unintended consequence of cheap labour- increasingly available through globalisation- means we get things at a much lower price, but also at a much higher cost as our own domestic labour force gets left out.

“But China is a challenge for Egypt and Jordan in other ways. Several years ago, I wrote about Egyptian entrepreneurs who were importing traditional lanterns for Ramadan — with microchips in them that played Egyptian folk songs — from China. When China can make Egyptian Ramadan toys more cheaply and appealingly than low-wage Egyptians, you know there is problem of competitiveness.

Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, Tunisia today are overflowing with the most frustrated cohort in the world — “the educated unemployables.” They have college degrees on paper but really don’t have the skills to make them globally competitive. I was just in Singapore. Its government is obsessed with things as small as how to better teach fractions to third graders. That has not been Hosni Mubarak’s obsession.

I look at the young protesters who gathered in downtown Amman today, and the thousands who gathered in Egypt and Tunis, and my heart aches for them. So much human potential, but they have no idea how far behind they are — or maybe they do and that’s why they’re revolting. Egypt’s government has wasted the last 30 years — i.e., their whole lives — plying them with the soft bigotry of low expectations: “Be patient. Egypt moves at its own pace, like the Nile.” Well, great. Singapore also moves at its own pace, like the Internet.”

(See the original article here)

Also see How High Do You Fly?, Are Apple Factory Workers in China Killing Themselves? and New Year’s Resolutions for World Leaders

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