South Africa: The Inevitable and Unsurmountable Rise of China Is Put to the Test By the Foschini Group


To me, the strange thing about history is not that it repeats itself, or that nobody learns from it, or some other trite adage. The incredible thing is that nobody seems to learn the most obvious thing from history. And that is, ta-da! - things change.

To put it more completely, our beliefs about the future are invariably confounded, and nothing about our knowledge of history seems to help us very much to understand how things will unfold. Of course, history doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes. And more profoundly, beliefs which we take as unimpeachable are as vulnerable as beliefs we take as undependable.

I will give you one such example. Here is a statement of fact: it's impossible for the South African clothing industry to compete with China.

Done. Dusted.

Everything we know about how the world works would seem to underline that belief. China is huge, with large towns devoting themselves to a single product. One example is "Sock City", the town of Datang, in Zhuji province, just south of Shanghai.

The town had a population of 1,000 people in the early 1980s, but now has a population of about 100,000. By 2008, the town was producing...

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