Last week was the biennial auto show in Beijing.
Auto manufacturers fell all over one another with announcements of how much money they will invest in China in the next few years. Everyone was excited about the potential for car and truck sales there over the next decade or so.
China already has passed Germany in vehicle sales and is behind only the United States and Japan.
Despite the euphoria, there may be a cloud or two on the horizon.
Already there is talk about a consumer slowdown in sales. China is making it tougher for the 20 percent of Chinese buyers who want credit to be able to get loans to buy new cars. Most new-car buyers in China still pay cash.
Everyone assumes that this will go on forever. But I remember the optimism after the reunification of Germany. There was a rush to buy cars, new and used, and Germans were convinced that it would continue forever. It didn't. And the German market hasn't grown that much even though it added millions of consumers.
Right now there is pent-up demand for new cars in China, and there is plenty of hidden cash to buy them, but that may not last forever.
We also are seeing a large number of imports into China from Europe, Japan and North America. But the imports aren't going to be around forever, either because of a sales slowdown or a grand plan.
At some point, we will see Chinese cars for sale in Europe, Japan and the United States. With the cost of labor in China, those cars will be a lot cheaper than anything coming from Korea.
No one seems to have a long-term view of China. Eventually, China may decide that it would rather have its own industry, owned by China rather than a lot of partners.
That may be why the Chinese are so emphatic about getting as much technology as possible into China rather than settling for last year's car models.
As it rushes to become an industrial powerhouse, China already has become a major consumer of petroleum, cement and ore. Sooner or later this huge consumer market also will have a huge need for more U.S. currency. China will get that with automobile exports.
Today's darling in terms of consumption just might become tomorrow's nightmare as a competitor.
Be careful what you wish for.