The original birth of civilization began in the Middle East and migrated westward - to Greece, to Rome, and then to the nations of northern Europe. And, as Henry Luce so aptly quipped in 1941, ''The twentieth century was the American Century.'' Indeed it was. But the centroid of power continues to migrate westward: it is widely anticipated that the 21st century will be the ''Asian Century.''
Within the next few decades, virtually 50% of the gross domestic product of the entire Planet Earth will be produced between China and India. China is rapidly becoming the primary manufacturing giant, and India - surprisingly - is becoming a dominant factor in services and advanced technologies.
The Bible also indicates that a major power will enter the famed Battle of Armageddon from the east1:
And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. - Revelation 16:12
Isaiah also seems to refer to the same:
Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these [from the east] from the land of Sinim. - Isaiah 49:12
The label Sinim derives from Chin, the feudal state in China, (897-221 B.C.), which unified China in the 3rd century B.C., and built the Great Wall. Sinology is the study of the Chinese culture, history, language(s), and traditions.
Their story begins long before Confucius, Buddha, or Lao-tze (the founder of Taoism). We need to go back an additional 2,000 years, to the dispersion of all the people from the Tower of Babel.2 The Sinites traveled eastward and, geographically isolated by the subsequent mountain ranges and vast deserts, they developed their own characteristic culture, undisturbed for several millennia. Yet they retained some of the original influences from their former homeland, including the seven-day week, which they still use.3 They initially retained an accurate knowledge of historical events from the very beginning of time, since the period spanned was only three patriarchal lifetimes: Adam to Methuselah to Shem.4
The origin of their pictographic language system is believed to have been initiated in about 2500 B.C. During the Chin dynasty, the first governmental standardization of characters (some 3,000) was instituted and have to a large degree remained the standard to this present day.5 The early events of Genesis seem to be reflected in many of their pictographs, and their earliest form of worship was monotheistic!
One of the most venerated manuscripts of ancient China is the Shu Ching (Shoo King), the Book of History.6 Its contents date back nearly to the time of Noah and consist of a number of records of the first three dynasties, Hsia, Shang, and Chou, and several of their predecessors, embracing the period from the middle of the 24th century B.C. to 721 B.C.
It contains the foundation of their political system, their history, religious rites, and the basis of their tactics, music and astronomy. The Shu Ching records that Emperor Shun, in 2230 B.C., sacrificed to ShangTi, which has been identified as the same Supreme Being of the Genesis record.7
It was the reign of Chin Shih Huang-Ti that established the Chinese empire and redirected its religious course. The name ''China'' is derived from his dynastic appellation. Ascending the throne at the age of 13 in 246 B.C., within 25 years he had conquered all of Chinas separate warring states, unified the great nation, and declared himself the ''first universal emperor.'' Chin Shih Huang-Ti also built roads, a vast canal system, and standardized the style of writing Chinese characters, as well as weights and measurements. He apparently fell under the influence of Taoist superstitions and allowed the corruption of the ancient sacrifices to ShangTi.
He was also noted for the completion of the Great Wall of China, extending as an undulating serpent for 1,500 miles, built to protect themselves from the Hsiung-Nu, descendants of Magog, son of Japheth, a grandson of Noah. The Muslim writers refer to the Great Wall as Sud Yagog et Magog, ''the ramparts of Gog and Magog.''8 (And so, our study of the Kings of the East can be expected to relate to the ill-fated invasion prophesied in Ezekiel 38.)
China, in the following centuries, endured war lords, disunion, reunification, conquest by the Mongols, two wars lost to Britain in attempts to halt the illegal importation of opium, a Japanese invasion, and a civil war between the Communists and the nationalist regime.
In 1928 the Nationalist regime of the Kuomintang established the Republic. In 1949 the Chinese Communist Party won an ensuing civil war and established the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) on the mainland, while the Kuomintang fled to the island province of Taiwan, where it reestablished the Nationalist government. 1966 began the ''Cultural Revolution'' by Chairman Mao Tze-tung, which ended in 1976 with his death.
Mao strayed from the Soviet Marxist model, attempting to build a socialist society based on peasant farming rather than a centralized, bureaucratic, industrialized economy. The subsequent leadership, however, has achieved a modern miracle of incredible proportions. Economic liberalization policies quadrupled the gross domestic product in just two decades, between 1978 and 1998, and their economy is now second largest in the world, having passed Japan and Germany in 1990. Chinas economy is growing 7% faster than the U.S. and is projected to become the largest in the world in less than a decade.
At one time, China had the worlds most advanced civilization. Innovations such as paper, printing, gunpowder, porcelain, silk, and the compass originated in China and then spread to other parts of the world. This heritage, along with its burgeoning economy, has now made China the technology manufacturer of choice (over the U.S., Mexico, Thailand, Singapore, etc.). It produces more engineers each year than the U.S. and its research and development expenditures are now outpacing the U.S.
China currently accounts for 25% of total world output, over 50% of total foreign exchange, and enjoys a 30-45% savings rate. (The U.S. has a virtually zero savings rate, or worse. Savings are the only true source of capital.) The U.S. sends China over $50 billion per year of capital (over $140 million per day!) China has attracted more foreign investment capital in five years than Japan has in the five decades since World War II.
Though during the 1970s and 80s, China was a net oil exporter; it became a net oil importer in 1993 and is now growing increasingly dependent on foreign oil. China currently imports 32% of its oil and is expected to double its need for imported oil between now and 2010 to become the worlds second largest oil consumer.
Chinas annual per capita income has now crossed the $1000 inflection point and there are now people with discretionary income purchasing consumer goods - cars instead of bicycles, etc. Passenger car sales grew 55% last year, with lower prices and broader financing programs. China is in the process of shifting 300 million people from an agrarian economy to urban city life - more than the entire population of the U.S.
A report by the International Energy Agency predicted that by 2030, Chinese oil imports will exceed the oil imports by the U.S. today. Chinas growing dependence on oil imports has caused it to acquire interests in Kazakhstan, Russia, Venezuela, Sudan, Iraq, Iran, Peru, and Azerbaijan. Despite its efforts to diversify its sources, China has become increasingly dependent on Middle East oil: 58% today; 70% projected by 2015. (The U.S. currently imports 55% of its oil needs; by 2025, 70%.9)
There is yet another competitor on the horizon: India. Its astonishing developments - and those now emerging - will surprise you. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series.
We need to be like the ''sons of Issachar,'' who understood the times and knew what their country had to do.12 Very turbulent times are advancing upon us, and traditional presumptions will prove hazardous, indeed! Your stewardship - both personally and for your family - will depend on your own diligence. Do your homework! Were here to help you. Thats why we formed the Institute. Lets continue to pray - seriously - for each other.
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This article was excerpted from our current Briefing Package, The Kings of the East. Other topics included are the discoveries of the origins of Chinese characters from Genesis; a discussion of the fire-breathing dragons in Job; and comparison charts analyzing the rapidly changing structure of the global economy.