Eight Out Of China’s Top Nine Government Officials Are Scientists

I myself was unaware of this fact. Readers of this blog know that I am no fan of communist China, nor do I think that their economy despite considerable growth is rock solid at least in the near term. I do know however that for the short comings of asians they are at least forward thinkers and prize long term planning. Contrary to America where people prize africans who can run fast or throw a ball through a hoop.

I know that last sentence doesn’t describe readers of this blog but I think we can agree that it generally does ring true for our fellow inhabitants of this country. Unless we start taking a hard look at ourselves, our own pursuits and those officials that we support we are setting ourselves up for perpetual failure.

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Did you know that the president of China is a scientist? President Hu Jintao was trained as a hydraulic engineer. Likewise his Premier, Wen Jiabao, is a geomechanical engineer. In fact, 8 out of China’s top 9 government officials are scientists. What does the scientific prominence atop China’s ruling body say, if anything, about the role of science and technology in China’s ability to compete against the U.S. and the world in terms of innovation and economic might?

Quick, name a scientist member of your government’s top offices.

That’s a tough one if you’re an American, as out of the 535 members of the U.S. Congress, only 22 have science or engineering backgrounds, and of these only two might be considered experienced scientists or engineers. As an American myself, I guess that would explain why I tend to assume all politicians were lawyers in their previous lives.

You have to be pretty popular to get elected, so should we conclude that Chinese people in general look up to and admire their scientists? Former CEO of Lockheed Martin, Norm Augustine, writes in Forbes that that’s exactly the case–and not only in China: “…scientists and engineers are celebrities in most countries. They’re not seen as geeks or misfits, as they too often are in the U.S.”

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