I just got back from China where I spent the last 5 days travelling along its 2nd and 3rd tier cities. I must say the level of economic progress that has been made since the last time I was here is absolutely astounding. The number of high speed rail lines has definitely made travelling during the festive CNY period a much more pleasant experience.
It also reminds me of the time when Singapore first became independent and mass industrialization was made to bring the country out of poverty and into the first world. The problems then were pragmatic ones, very much like in China today.
However, like any other society most Chinese people find investing in the stock market much more like a speculative venture than a real proxy for income generation. While I am no expert on A-shares, I think there is still much progress to be made in this aspect.
Back when Singapore became independent, the government of the day saw fit to divide the holdings of its then to be privatized national telecom to its citizens, through Special Discounted Shares. For me this is one of the most tangible ways to allow the average citizen to participate in the progress of society.
Personally, I believe that financial capitalism deserves a special mention in our progress as a country. No longer can we say that wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few tycoons. Open markets form yet another avenue for enterprising people to preserve and grow their wealth, while still being economically productive. The fact that every person has the right to participate in the economic progress that they see around them strengthens the case for the middle class and lessens their need on government handouts in old age.
Sure there is avenue for abuse and investors still have to be wary where to place their hard earned money. But there definitely are many other countries where the economic systems are not as robust, and the difference between poverty and the middle class is merely holding onto a job.
While many young Singaporeans can complain that their lot is tougher than their forefathers, I choose to say that this avenue is something that they did not have back then. Already, there are a few people who have successfully chosen to go down this route and I believe that this nascent population will only continue to grow.