As China prepares to overtake the United States as the world's economic superpower, it is quite clear to me that Mandarin Chinese - rather than American English - will be the language of interstellar travel.
IMHO, this is a rather positive development, as the average American corporate drone is probably no better than your typical hyper-capitalist Ferengi.
Seriously, who in their right mind would want a team of overdressed, uptight and arrogant American bureaucrats dictating the rules of interstellar commerce? I sure as hell wouldn't.
Besides, we are clearly an Empire in a less-than-graceful decline.
The federal government wastes billions on nonsensical pet projects but just can't be bothered to maintain a functional space program. We are also routinely (and embarrassingly) forced to "import" scientists and researchers from other countries which actually care about education.
And it shows.
Shanghai is fast becoming the new Tokyo, as the relevance of the United States slowly fades into the twilight of oblivion. Of course, most Americans, especially those who work in high-tech, are in complete denial about the paradigm shift occurring under their very noses.
"China violates human rights," they routinely whine. "The culture isn't conducive to creativity, they are ripping off our code and hardware."
Human rights? Let's not even go there. The United States is currently engaged in at least three wars, not to mention extensive covert operations in countries such as Pakistan.
One can debate the morality of each conflict, but at the end of the day, America doesn't exactly have clean hands. Nor should it or could it, because from a Machiavellian perspective, it is practically impossible for any nation to ensure security without taking certain unpleasant steps (at some point in time) to protect its borders.
Still, American priorities are hopelessly mired in oil and self-defeating big business, leaving little room for an optimistic future. In contrast, China is booming as its economy neatly diversifies and rapidly expands.
But I digress.
Getting back to my original point, yes, Chinese engineers may "rip off" or "steal" certain aspects of base code, but under their tutelage, software and hardware are evolving at a remarkable pace.
Just look at the fierce competition between Chinese social networking sites Renren and Kaixin001. Unlike the United States where there is really only one Facebook (MySpace doesn't count), Renren and Kaixin001 are constantly rolling out new features and revising their UI in an effort to attract new members.
However, Facebook, in essence, hasn't radically changed since its inception. To make matters worse, it is still the only game in town, which doesn't exactly seem all that capitalist to me.
America is treading water across the board - barely able to stay afloat or innovate - while China has effectively switched on its afterburners.
So at this stage, it appears to be the nation most likely to invest in a viable space program; which will allow Beijing to send manned expeditions throughout our solar system, establish space stations, mining facilities and even colonize planets.
Yes, America had its opportunity, once long ago, but preferred to explore the galaxy on television, rather than in real life. It's time to give China a chance.
I, for one, look forward to an interstellar future. If Beijing rather than Washington wants to lead the way, fine with me. Let's just get there already.