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#a4 :: Chinese laser/LED combo

February 17, 2008

ENLARGEOn a side trip to dusty Guangzho province during our honeymoon nearly 14 years ago, it all came clear to me:

Town after town shared the same burly energy: raw labor in copious supply. Assembly lines, construction sites, and industrial workshops pungent with the gritty tang of toxins being applied with deft haste – everywhere, teams of people made, grew and built things with their hands.

In one community, gangs of men were tearing down a small mountain with picks, and shoveling it into an endless parade of dumptrucks bound for the site of the new Hong Kong airport, where it was unceremoniously poured into Hong Kong harbor. By hand, they were changing the mountain into a new runway some 20 miles away …

Guai lo businessmen clogged the hotel lobbies. Convoys of limos – Jags, Benzes, Lincolns, Jeeps – rolled through Beijing, en route to tours and demonstrations and deals. “SAMSUNG,” roared the billboards. “PHILIPS.” And everywhere, the sense that China’s time was coming, once again, hung heavy as smog.

Flash forward to now: Chinese investors own large stakes in U.S. corporations. They repossessed HongKong and Macau from the west. They’re terraforming Beijing for the Olympics.

And well-made tools like this $4 laser/reading light clutter the stalls of L.A.’s Chinatown. The dragon’s long tail trails heavily through the economy, shedding sharp, bright scales of mass-produced technology as it passes.

And all things glitter a bit more brightly.

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