China's Economic Challenge

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China, Japan's heir as Asia's rising star, is now completing its own immense airport here in Guangzhou, the sprawling center of southeastern China. But the Chinese are going about it .
American companies designed the terminal, its air-conditioning system and the flight system. A German company engineered the vaulting roof, a Danish company produced the boarding gates and a Dutch company, the check-in counters. Chinese women in broad-brimmed straw hats wield shovels and brooms across from a modern air-traffic-control tower designed by a company from Singapore.
The welcome that China is offering to multinational companies and foreign has left many Western business executives, so critical of a closed Japan more than a decade ago, embracing China, its cheap work force and its huge markets.
But that same - combined with China's vast population of 1.3 billion and military muscle - makes it an even greater long-term challenge to the United States than Japan seemed to be in the 1980's, according to a growing number of executives, and officials.
While China's economy is still one-third the size of Japan's, the potential size of its market has made it very hard for companies to say no when Beijing officials demand the factories, transference of the latest technology or the of Chinese technical standards.
Japan has run out of low-wage workers for its industries, and quickly brought much of its economy up to and in some cases beyond Western standards. China still has vast reserves of cheap labor in inland areas and many backward industries that can grow swiftly as they copy Western and Japanese methods.
(Bradsher, Keith(2004, March 3) Like Japan in the 1980's, China Poses Big Economic Challenge,The New York Times)