Europe and the United States are the two largest economic blocs. I thought this map was interesting. It visualizes how the European countries would map onto the 50 United States, by equivalent GDP.

visualization using 2018 GDP figures approximated to fit EU country onto American state

Hong Kong – global gateway city – “Two Nations One China” paradigm


Recently a truckload of Chinese immigrants was reported to have been stopped by UK Border Force. 50+ Chinese of diverse age range were found dead in the otherwise empty refrigerated trailer, locked from the outside, too little air so the poor people suffocated. One question cropped up, asked by a reader of the Daily Mail:

China is a richer country than Britain so why would the Chinese be risking their lives to migrate to the UK?

China, United Kingdom, these are useful fictions. Countries are a little like corporations but far more complicated and less optional. At the top are a small number of powerful executives making big salaries. At the base are a large number of extremely poor, disempowered and often desperate human beings.

China is the world’s second-biggest national economy with $12 trillion GDP. The United Kingdom’s annual GDP is quarter the size of China’s. China is a nation with a 1.4 billion population, the UK at 65 million is over twenty times smaller. What this means, however, is the average citizen of the UK is 5 times as rich as the average Chinese citizen.

In reality, China is a bigger economy than the UK but the Chinese are still considerably poorer than the British.

Wealth is distributed unevenly across society. Every country has rich and poor but the poorest people won’t be much impressed by newspaper headlines telling them how big their nation’s economy is when they’re living hand to mouth. Some of them will look at the world and see how much more money they can make – personally – in richer countries, how much better their family’s quality of life might be. They’ll look for opportunities within reach, weigh up how much risk is worth taking…

It shouldn’t be a surprise when, despite their growing national economic wealth, Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipinos, Malaysians, Indonesians decide to take risks to find a way into the opportunity-rich United Kingdom, as well as other countries in the European Union, the United States and Canada.

The migrants recently found dead in the back of an airtight truck trailer were simply desperately unlucky. They had probably looked at the world map, seen a journey from the far east of Asia to the United Kingdom is all overland – apart from one tiny body of water – the English Channel. Sadly for them, it was getting over that little stretch of sea cost them their lives.

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