Last weekend I posted a poll asking readers what they think the “capital of the world” will be in 2050. It was really the 2nd half of a two part poll. The first one asked what people think the capital of the world is today. And the majority of people said New York.
While New York still came out on top in the 2nd poll, the most notable difference is the rise of Chinese cities. Behind New York is Shanghai, Hong Kong and Beijing. And in a way, this order makes sense to me. China would like to see Shanghai on top of Hong Kong, because it’s perceived as being more Chinese (Hong Kong is still too British). But both are still more economically important than Beijing.
Still, my own belief is that China is going to need to go through some structural changes before its cities really have a chance of dethroning New York (or London, depending on your vote in the first poll). And I think it has to do with openness, transparency and freedom. Fred Wilson probably put it best when he said to basically invest in whatever China blocks:
As our [Bitcoin] panel was winding down, Superintendant Lawsky asked what countries were doing it right. I didn’t answer that question but instead decided to talk about one that isn’t doing it right and brought up China and noted that a fantastic investment strategy would be to have invested in every Internet service that China has blocked. My point being that the services China likes to block are the really important ones that have been built on the Internet.
He then goes on to say that he believes there’s a strong correlation between innovation and freedom. And I would agree. So until China stops blocking the innovation that is likely going to drive the world forward, I think it’s going to struggle to assume a true leadership position.
What are your thoughts?