Paul Krugman was awarded a Nobel for his breakthrough thesis, which established how 'scale economies and regional proximities can be the key to development and growth. From our perspective, the lesson that can be drawn from his work is that to grow meaningfully and quickly we will need to partner with at least one major regional economic power. While taking nothing away from Hina Khars recent stint in India (she conducted herself beautifully) our logical partner in this endeavour, for now, can only be China - a friendship higher than the mountains and deeper than the oceans Japan in the post-Second World War period economically locked itself into the USA and subsequently the so-called Asian Tigers into Japan to unlock an era of unprecedented economic growth in East Asia and the Far East Asia. Pakistan needs to follow a similar strategy; to single-mindedly focus on aligning itself to one economic superpower till such time that it becomes strong enough to stand on its own. Lets have a look at the areas where we can develop important synergies with China in what it does and where it can possibly be our guide and mentor, O China has 19 percent of worlds population, but consumes 53 percent of worlds cement, 48 percent of worlds iron-ore and 47 percent of worlds coal and a large part of just about every major commodity. In 2010, it produced 11 times more steel than the United States. China builds a new coal powered station every week and in one year brings on line more coal-powered electricity than the total output of the Australian continent. Whereas Pakistan, which is going through its worst energy crisis in history, sits on one of the premier coal deposits in the world, but has been unable to harness its potential by successfully converting it to electricity. O A new world record was set when China made and sold 18 million vehicles in 2010. Pakistan has by now an experienced auto and auto-vendor industry catering to a rather large domestic market of 180 million people, but has failed to live up to its projections on local and export sales. O According to the World Health Organisation figures, per capita meat consumption in South Asia per se is going up (largely due to the fast growing middle class affluence in India), but going down in Pakistan. Ironically, in spite of this decline in our meat consumption (which is bad enough) our meat prices have been sky rocketing in recent years and the meat processing industry still largely remains in the unorganised sector. China, on the other hand, in the last decade has emerged as the most sophisticated global centre of meat production. Pork being their most popular meat, there are more pigs in China than in the next 43 pork producing nations and the Chinese sustain the fastest rising per capita meat consumption in the world. O China currently has the worlds fastest train and the worlds largest high-speed rail network. Pakistans Railways in contrast is in doldrums and needs urgent help. O China is currently the number one producer in the world of wind and solar power. While they manufacture 80 percent of the worlds solar panels, they install less than 5 percent at home as the rest are all exported. Pakistan, as we know, is desperate for alternate cum renewable energy. O Chinas progress in the scientific arena has been most phenomenal. Not only does it currently control more than 90 percent of the total global supply of rare earth elements, but also in the last 15 years, it has moved from 14th to 2nd place in the world in published scientific research articles and now possesses the fastest supercomputer on the entire globe. Exposure to such facilities and technology can transform the future of Pakistan and its young population. O Pakistan can do with growth, which in all likelihood can primarily come through exports. China, as we know, represents the most successful model of an exports-led growth and according to the figures released towards the end of March 2011, its accumulated foreign currency reserves stood at $3.04 trillion (worlds largest stockpile). Most importantly, we can learn from China on how to grow equitably. China stands as the modern day miracle for the highest eradication of poverty the world has ever known. A level (over a population of more than one billion) that stood in the plus 30 percent zone around the late 70s and early 80s stands reduced to around 4 percent today. In doing so, the Chinese were the first nation to consciously move away from the marginal-productivity theory (MPT), by way of which the western economists justify inequalities. In a nutshell, this theory associates higher incomes with higher productivity and a greater contribution to society. It is a theory that has always been cherished by the rich. Argument being that so what if this person gains and that person loses? What matters, they argue, is not how the pie is divided but the size of the pie. The Chinese government, under the able advisory of Joseph Stiglitz, disputed this approach right from the word go. The state decided that growing inequality is always the flip side of something else: Shrinking opportunity. Whenever we diminish equality of opportunity, it means that we are not using some of our most valuable assets - our people - in the most productive way possible. Many of the distortions that lead to inequality - such as those associated with monopoly power and preferential tax treatment for special interests - undermine the efficiency of the economy. This new inequality goes on to create new distortions, undermining efficiency even further. Finally, perhaps the most powerful argument that the Chinese employed in shunning the MPT was that a modern economy requires collective action. It means that not only should the government invest in infrastructure, education and technology, but also in institutions that can work independently without political-cum-social pressures and corruption to carry out consistent economic policies over a long haul. Whereas when it comes to Pakistan, trust these very elements of independence, transparency and consistency tend to be the principal weaknesses in our economic management today n The writer is an entrepreneur and economic analyst. Email: kamalmannoo@hotmail.com