What will China be like in 10 years?
Updated: 2014-03-06 00:58
By Tom Clifford (China Daily)
"We interrupt live coverage of the Mars mission launch from Dongfeng to go to Beijing for the Oscars ceremony. As viewers are no doubt aware, this is the first time the award ceremony has been held outside the US. Nominated for best films for 2024, both sequels to the 2014 films, were American Bustle and Newton's Law. But the award-winning film for 2024 is Dalian, a story based around an oil executive and his family. It claims to put the oil into romantic turmoil. Also an Oscar first this year is that robots, instead of humans, have been nominated best actor and actress. Three of the five nominated robots, and two supporting robots, were made in China. Film formats have changed from 10 years ago and have lost the plot, literally, as viewers can select their own endings. The Oscars have taken this into account, and also for the first time, are allowing viewers to select their favorites."
Not entirely beyond the realms of plausibility 10 years from now. There is little future in prediction, except for chefs making, and waiters serving, large doses of humble pie. But at the risk of indigestion, and of attracting a waiter's attention, 2024 could have some of the following ingredients.
We won't have cash. Wallets and purses will be quaint reminders of the past that we can show bemused children. No need for notes and coins, as a bank's logo says: "Cash? It's a spent force".
All financial transactions will be done through smartphones, apps and embedded microchips in our wrists. No queueing to pay at tills. We pick, we go, we get scanned, money deducted.
Meanwhile back on the ranch, farms have also undergone profound change. Most of the megacities in China are self-sustaining with farms now located vertically floor on floor. Our food is grown in skyscrapers, energized by solar and wind power.
Life expectancy has soared and reaching 100, with full faculties, is a realistic goal. Cycling has witnessed a resurgence and China will establish the world's first fully green city, with no fossil fuel used for transport or heating and only bikes allowed on the road. Some cities are considering banning all vehicles, except for essential public services.
The economy is the world's biggest, but that was expected 10 years ago. What was not expected was the massive change in education. A new international test for 18 and 19-year-olds has been agreed by the world's leading universities, of which three of the top eight are in China. The new test, mandatory for those going to university, asks questions on a global curriculum based on food, language, computing, math and the IHSK. This is the international version of the HSK, a language exam for foreigners in China, and 15 million students will sit it across the globe in 2024.
Passing IHSK grade 4 is a prerequisite for most jobs, outside of China. Global employers demand that their workers know the language of their main customers. The top selling item of 2024? An earpiece that provides simultaneous language translation (IHSK students are not allowed to wear one for their test).
An estimated 921 million people, or 65 percent of China's population, will live in cities in 2024, which is about 2.5 times the size of the US population.
Driver-less cars are nothing new, but what is really grabbing the public's imagination are transport drones, that can accommodate up to 20 passengers, and fly in sky corridors at two-minute intervals. The initial corridor was built between Beijing and Shanghai.
In economic affairs, currency parity parties are being organized in Washington and Beijing as the WTO supported China's claim that the US was guilty of currency manipulation. The dollar has fallen 28 percent in 12 months.
Not all the changes will be on Earth. About 10,000 people have already gone into near orbit as space tourists, and some have already spent two weeks on China's moon base. TV sets have gone, replaced by special spectacles which can be adjusted for old-fashioned cinema, living room or rainforest setting. This means that viewers, apart from choosing the ending, can select the backdrop, for their viewing pleasure. The Spring Gala for 2024 was held in the US, part of the global TV rights package that saw the Oscars in Beijing.
The waiter is hovering.
"And how exactly would you like your humble pie, sir? Possibly with a side dish of apologetic vegetables or with a glass of wine. May I suggest a suitably embarrassed red."