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Futurist Toffler: China Has Seen "Astonishing Changes"(11/28/01)

Renowned American author and futurist Alvin Toffler said before leaving Beijing on November 28, 2001 that China has experienced "astonishing changes."
Toffler, author of "The Third Wave," said, "China is a different world, even from a few years ago."
"The Third Wave" was translated into Chinese in the 1980s and it immediately became a bestseller. All of his works are bestsellers in China and many of his phrases have been widely used in China's social, economical and cultural lives.
Toffler said he admired Chinese leadership, as "they have carefully introduced significant changes while maintaining stability."
In a number of his books and articles, Toffler predicted China would rise as a global power and bring great changes to the world.

Toffler said China has three different spheres of society. Some 700 million to 900 million people, mainly peasants, still live in the "first wave" world. They need to benefit from development, and are at the highest risk of being hurt by China's WTO entry.
The "second wave" consists of the 250 million to 300 million Chinese who belong to the urban industrial world of mass manufacturing.
Only a small population of 10 million are information age people, or the knowledge-based "third wave" group.
Toffler said the disparities between the three are difficult for a government to manage.    
He said the "wave-ratio" in China will change in the next 10 years or more, and China will make historic changes within one generation.

"The most important thing for China is how to allocate the limited resources," he noted. "Can we use the tools we have in the second or third wave to help people in the first wave?"
He said if China chooses the traditional path of shifting the first wave people to the second, millions of peasants in rural areas will rush into cities, and it would be disastrous.
He said China might use third wave technologies such as genetic crops and broadband to help improve the well-being of the first wave people.
He said it is possible to bridge certain technology gaps, but not political and cultural ones. Internet technologies such as broadband can serve as new tools for educational as well as commercial purposes.
Toffler has visited China eight times. His current trip was at the invitation of China Netcom to attend a conference on China's broadband sector.
( Note: Besides "The Third Wave," Toffler is also author of international bestseller "Future Shock." The first two books have been regarded as masterpieces of futurism. Since their publications in the 1980s, they have been translated into over 30 languages and sold millions of copies. It is said his books have influenced and inspired different generations, including politicians, scientists and business people.)


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