China, too, has an extra 'secret weapon': the 51
million Chinese who live outside its borders. Collectively they own liquid assets worth
two trillion dollars.25 Their over-riding ethic is
educational achievement. Most of their historic family links are with major
areas of growth along Chinaıs eastern seafront. With their investment in those
areas, and the countryıs own internal growth policies, the Chinese economy is set to
become the worldıs largest no later than the 2030s, maybe earlier.26
Take just one project: the brainchild of Richard Li,
Californian-educated second son of Hong Kong's richest man, Li Ka-shing, and one of the
two main heirs to the Li family's $10 billion fortune. In the mid-1990s Richard Li
sold his Star TV satellite television network to Rupert Murdoch for $950 million.
Now he's prepared to invest that and more to provide a unique television-Internet
service to hundreds of millions of Chinese and other Asian families. Fewer than 3
percent of Asian families currently have a telephone, but 65 percent have TV. And
Richard Li, in a joint venture with Intel, is to provide these families with a cheap
set-top box that will turn their television sets into emailing, Web-surfing computers.
Each will even be voice-activated for hundreds of millions of Asians who cannot
type. Li knows full well that, with 1.3 billion people, China has an official policy
to encourage one-child families. Those children could become the world's most
educated. And Li's new Pacific Convergence Corporation intends to provide them with
a full range of interactive services, including distance learning and Internet shopping.
4: Internet commerce and learning
Link all these first four
trends to all aspects of commerce and education and you get an even more astonishing view
of tomorrow's world. As Li's project shows, not only can people communicate instantly
around the globe, but they can trade instantly and learn instantly.
By mid-1997, Dell was selling computers through the
Internet at a rate of $1 million a day. By early 1999: $18 million a day. By then its
customers were paying $18 billion a year for Dell computers which the users themselves
were largely configuring on the Internet, selecting from individual components. The
completed orders were then transferred electronically to Federal Express depots around the
world, and delivered overnight.
The same pattern is revolutionizing commerce in other
Open up www.amazon.com on the World Wide Web and
you'll join at least 540,000 customers who each day gain instant access to 2.5 million
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