Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 17 April 2014


Last week I was in China, a country I have long wanted to visit. Its population is now 1.25 billion; by far the most populated country in the world and its economy has risen from nowhere in the last 30 years to be the second largest and rising.

Many experts believe that this century will largely belong to them.  I offer three immediate observations on my time over there.

First, the size and effectiveness of their infrastructure is breathtaking. Both Shanghai and Beijing airports are modern masterpieces of design and engineering, but if anything their modern railway stations are even more impressive.  They appear to build everything on a scale that allows for growth and room to move even though these busy places already accommodate a vast number of people.

Travelling at 305 Kilometres per hour on the railway system that links their major cities felt as though we were hardly moving. If we can achieve anything approaching that when we build HS2 we should be very proud.

As we know for many years the Chinese government has pursued a one child policy. There is some softening of that policy today, but most families will still have to restrict themselves to one child. This policy appears to have led to a real focus on that child doing well, especially through the education system, and they are achieving tremendous results and turning out brilliant scholars. This is why our own government is so keen to improve standards over here, as our brightest young people are now in competition with Chinese (and other Asian) students for the top jobs in law, finance, engineering and so on.

It is hardly appropriate to describe China as a Communist country any longer as their recent success has been built upon western style capitalism. The Communist party has kept a grip on power and renews itself by inviting the brightest and best from each generation to join its ranks. You cannot apply to join the party, you have to be invited. This is a very clever way of retaining control for the ruling elite which makes up about 5% of the population. I am sure that the system is sprinkled with a fair measure of nepotism but even allowing for that, it preserves power to the most able.

China used to be an inward looking mystery to the rest of the world. She is now beginning to take her place at the top table.

posted by Gary @ 09:51