Consider, to learn Japanese, you need to learn katakana, hiragana, and kanji (Chinese characters). In this respect it's more difficult to learn written Japanese than Chinese, yet that did not stop Japan from becoming the economic powerhouse in post-WW2 Asia. Nor has China's 2,000-3,000+ year old (debatable depending on your view of bone script) writing system prevented the country's economic rise in recent decades.
The point that I've been trying to make here is that, John Reed's article (post #1 in this thread) and what he advocates is harmful to America's economic and security interests. Of all the articles published in Chinese, only a small fraction is translated and published in English. America depends on Americans who live domestically and abroad in China to learn the Chinese language and read everything they can about what's going on, and to provide accurate & factual analysis to American businesses and policymakers. The language being more or less difficult to learn is not an acceptable excuse to remain ignorant.
While ex-pats can choose to live in a happy bubble, to suggest that everyone else should do the same results in American scholars and analysts in colored glasses, indulging in their alphabetic-superiority fantasy and can't even point to the Chinese capital or Yangtze River on a map.
20 years ago (1993), the Chinese missile force didn't even have modern simulators and used cardboards and hand-drawn instruments for training: (see: 01:15)
If you went to China in 1993 and preached western technical superiority, you'd have had an audience. However, in this year (2013), Chinese missile defense export systems beat American, European, and Russian systems and won Turkey's $4 billion missile-defense contract. The Chinese HQ-9 (FD-2000) system is said to have hit all targets during test demonstrations while the others missed some, and the Chinese under-cut the competition by more than half a billion dollars.
While Westerners think that the Chinese are backward with an archaic language and lack innovation, the Chinese went from using cardboard boxes and markers to simulate computers 20 years ago, to exporting missile defense systems that beat American and European systems & at a lower price today. To a NATO country no less. The American government sent envoys to Turkey this month to "discuss" the bid and probably applying all kinds of carrot & stick tactics to get Turkey to change their minds. While the deal may or may not go through under US pressure, the Chinese has little reason to think that they'd remain technically backward today. Does Raytheon, maker of the Patriot missile system, think that the "archaic" Chinese language means that the Chinese will never make a better missile, despite the fact that it was the Chinese who invented rockets in the first place?
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/ ... 9X20131024
Going back to Japan, their defense industry came close to replacing the US-made Aegis combat system with ESSM and SM-2 missiles in recent years. The Akizuki class DDG is equipped with Japanese made ATECS (advanced tech combat system / OYQ-11 & FCS-3A AAW (anti-air warfare) suite. It was supposed to be armed with AHRIM/XRIM-4 missiles developed from the Japanese Type 99 AAM. However the program was axed due to "budgetary concerns" and they went back to importing US-made ESSM missiles.
The Japanese XRIM-4 development program was looking into DRE (ducted rock engine propellant) system that would've eventually increased the missile's range from 100km-120km to 200km-350km. While the range is inferior to the SM-3 and SM-6, the Japanese would've effectively eliminated the need to import US made AAW system except for long-range ballistic missile defense. If and when they lift constitutional restrictions on the military, the Japanese defense industry would directly compete against Lockheed Martian on ship based AAW system exports.
Advanced weapon system exports is important to the defense industry, because that's one of their major source of revenue to off-set R&D costs. For example, when Taiwan buys US-made patriot missile systems, in addition to the purchase price, Taiwan must pay a share of the R&D cost, covering localization, anti-tampering, R&D for special export variant, and R&D for the original system development cost. Thus, the cost of R&D is spread out among the buyers, including the US DoD. When there are fewer buyers (and more competition), the cost of R&D is shared by fewer customers and thus each customer must pay more out of their defense budget.
Prior to WW2, Americans made fun of the Japanese saying that their slanted eyes render them unable to fly airplanes. Well, that sure didn't stop them from bombing Pearl Harbor. Would anyone in the US defense industry, specifically Lockheed Martian, like to make fun of the Japanese "archaic language" and claim that their lack of innovation means they will never be a competitor in the navy AAW systems market?