How the Chinese will conquer the world

We joke sometimes about the Chinese conquering the West in one way or another. People who study population demographics often note that the white populations are being “bred out” by Hispanics in America (a fact that makes my old roommate – a Mr. Estrada – smile) and by Middle Easterners in Europe. With these ethno-cultural populations increasing their demographic prominence in the West as the white population diminishes, what will the world’s single biggest ethnic group do to compete? Breed us out? Nah, they’re going to think us out. There’s a reason people call Vancouver’s University of British Columbia the “University of Brilliant Chinese.”

…striding through campus on his way to class at the University of California, Berkeley, Hu hears Mandarin all the time, in plazas, cafeterias, classrooms, study halls, dorms and fast-food outlets. It is part of the soundtrack at this university, along with Cantonese, English, Spanish…

Playing with some stats and using Berkeley as an example: blacks, Hispanics, and whites are all underrepresented at Berkeley relative to their percentage of the state population. Asians? In undergrad they’re triple their state proportion. I’m not saying it’s genetic or anything, but check out the fun stats from this recent IHT article:

This fall and last, the number of Asian-American freshmen at Berkeley has been at a record high, about 46 percent.

What is troubling to some is that … does not mirror the ethnic face of California, which is 12 percent Asian, already more than twice the national average. But it is the new face of the state’s vaunted public university system. Asians make up the largest single ethnic group, 37 percent, at its nine undergraduate campuses.

At Berkeley, 3.6 percent of freshmen are black, barely half the statewide proportion… The percentage of Hispanic freshmen at Berkeley (11 percent) is not even a third of the state proportion (35 percent). White freshmen (29 percent) are also below the state average (44 percent).

Asian-Americans make up less than 5 percent of the population but typically make up 10 to 30 percent of students at the nation’s best colleges…

And according to advocates of race-neutral admissions policies, those numbers should be even higher.

In my freshman English class, a guy from Malaysia got the top marks. The year we graduated, a student from China took all the top academic awards.

Who works the hardest? Chinese.
Who’s getting the best grades? Chinese.
Who makes up an increasing and disproportionately large part of the student population at elite American universities even though current admission practices work against them? Chinese.

If you can’t beat ’em? Join ’em. But Mandarin is hard – you should start now. :D

9 thoughts on “How the Chinese will conquer the world”

  1. I hope they don’t develop their hockey too fast… I wanna play. Man, there’s a whole new realm of vocab. I wonder what deke is in Chinese.

  2. Do you think it has to do with the work ethic of the Chinese culture in general that Chinese people do so well in American schools? I think the west has also developed an entitlement mentality that creates a jealousy of any ethnic group that works harder and succeeds over their counterparts.

  3. Josh, I agree about the entitlement factor. Personally, I think the extreme individualism of Western cultures in general leads us to a very self-centered/selfish orientation to life that is ultimately self-destructive for individuals and the societies as a whole (we talked about this here, also). People get married/coupled, but this relationship better to infringe on my personal career ambitions. And what about couples having kids? White populations in some countries are actually shrinking because increasing numbers of couples don’t want kids… we’re valuing dual careers over family – kids would would cramp our freedom, or lifestyle, or whatever. Our self-centeredness in the West leads to a very impoverished view of what life is all about, I think.

    But that’s not to say that the grass is greener in East Asia.

    Check out this post and the Time Asia article it links to. There’s a lot of contributing factors to the drivenness of Chinese and Taiwanese: historical, cultural, political… When you only have one child, and that child is expected to financially provide for his parents and his own family, and there is fierce competition for not enough university spots and not enough jobs after university… plus other factors.

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