3 questions Howard
1, Where did you get your GDP / head figures from?
CIA as in https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2004rank.html
2, Do you remember Tiananmen Square? We live in a Democracy.
3, Have you ever worked in a provincial Chinese factory ?
Irrelevant. I was writing about the education of tiny chinese kids none of whom were at Tianamen Sqaure or work in a provincial factory. Where do either of those come into education? Or indeed to our economic survival long term?
Interestingly the same CIA site gives Hong Kong, the island these kids are on, as 19th in the income league ahead of our 38th. Could education be the reason?
Many different bodies use different types of data to produce statistical models and whilst GDP per Capita is a very important statistic, it can only be used to compare countries with similar types of economies.
Let's say for example that the GDP was the same for 2 countries but in one of them the average working week was 40 hours but the other was 60 hours, which is the most efficient?
In a many Chinese factories there are a lot of "migrant workers" who come in from the agricultural regions and live on site in dormitories. They work long hours and usually only go home to their villages twice a year. It can be a real problem after Chinese new year for example because a proportion of the workers don't come back again.
I've seen the working conditions and Health and Safety standards in a number of Chinese factories and believe me, you would not want to work or live there.
You simply cannot compare this type of economy to a typical European style economy.
I mention Tiananmen Square simply to point out that it's much easier to achieve ones economic goals when the State dictates that the 5 year plan is more important than the individual rights of the population.
China has made big strides in recent years and I am a great admirer of their single mindedness but you simply cannot compare China and the UK in pure statistical terms. China is now into it's 13th 5 year plan and I have no doubt that it will become the Worlds number 1 economy and that it will move forward for example on Human Rights and Global Ecology. But make no mistake, the 5 year plans will always come first.
You say the the Kids you watched speaking English were in Hong Kong.
Firstly, remember that Hong Kong was a British Colony up to 1997 and English was almost like a second Mother tongue to a large proportion of the population.
Secondly, Hong Kong is still a hub of world economic trade where English is the main language so if you want to get on in that society you have to be fluent and many of the parents would have been fluent English speakers because of their business backgrounds.
I don't disagree with you that as a Nation we must up our game to compete going forward but we should also stop talking down our achievements.