The New York Times
December 6, 2004, by KEITH BRADSHER, GUANGZHOU, China
FEW business executives watch the growth of the Chinese economy as closely as Michael R. P. Smith, the chief executive of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation.
Yet even Mr. Smith was startled when his staff recently projected that in 2034, bank assets in China would surpass those in the United States.
"When I saw that, I said, 'That can't be right,' and I went back to the economics guys," who confirmed the projection, Mr. Smith recalled.
Much the same surprise is cropping up in industry after industry and in country after country. From steel to oil to cars to credit cards, China is poised to become the world's biggest producer and market for many goods and services.
Along the way, China has come to terrify many foreign business executives and attract others - and sometimes both at the same time, depending on whether they see the country as a competitor, a cheap source of supply, a market, or all three.
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