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Monday, October 26, 2009

China "The Times They Are a Changin'"


Rise of a New China

After a 200-year hiatus -- since the Qing Dynasty began to weaken, in the early nineteenth century -- China is returning to the world stage as a great power. "That may be usual for China, but it is unusual for the West, given that the last period of Chinese greatness occurred when countries were far more isolated than they are today." (Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Online, August 1999)

David Miliband described China as the 21st century's "indispensable power" with a decisive say on the future of the global economy, climate change, and world trade.The foreign secretary predicted that over the next few decades China would become one of the two "powers that count," along with the US, and Europe could emerge as a third only if it learned to speak with one voice. (Julian Borger,, May 17 2009)

Since America ushered China into the World Trade Organization in 2002, Beijing’s growth rate has been four times that of the United States, accelerating from an average 10 percent of gross domestic product to 12 percent in 2007.

According to Patrick J. Buchanan, "With her immense trade surpluses, China’s reserves have surged from $200 billion in 2002 to $2 trillion. Awash in dollars, Beijing now waits patiently, writes McMillion, to cherry-pick the crown jewels of America’s industrial empire—“patents, talents, natural resources, brands”—at fire-sale prices in the global crash." (, November 11 2008)

Beijing began its amazing rise by devaluing its currency 45 percent in 1994, slashing the prices of exports in half and making imports twice as expensive. America threw open her market and invited China to come in and capture it, and China had erected a Great Wall around her own, adopting and pursuing a China First policy of economic nationalism.

China and Current Powers

Here is some information courtesy of James Kurth "Pillars of the Next American Century." (
, November- December 2009)

1.  "Although the United States remains the largest manufacturing economy in the world, China is projected to overtake it by 2015 or so. And China, of course, is the largest and often most competitive producer in such basic sectors as steel, shipbuilding and consumer goods. 

2. "China’s industrial superiority, and the export earnings it brings, has translated into financial strength. At $2 trillion, China’s reserves of foreign currencies—especially the U.S. dollar—now exceed those of any other country.

3. "The Chinese government’s response to the current global economic crisis is remarkably similar to President Franklin Roosevelt’s response to the Great Depression. Like FDR’s New Deal, the Chinese version centers on large-scale spending on big infrastructure projects like highways, railroads, bridges, dams, rural electrification and public buildings." (, November- December 2009)

So, if China’s present trends and economic policies continue, it will likely leave the current global economic crisis with its economy more developed and diverse than it was when the crisis began. But, if America’s own present trends and economic policies continue, the United States will make its exit from the crisis with its economy more distorted and debilitated than it was before. 

How Can America Maintain Its Leadership?

Therefore, many experts believe that a prime objective of the U.S. government must be to maintain and even enhance America’s technological superiority, particularly with respect to developing new economic sectors that will be leaders in global markets. New "green" energy sources and uses, new biotechnology-based products and processes, and new medical and health treatments are the most obvious candidates. (, November- December 2009)

The real issue in economic development is not the simple move from manufacturing to services, but rather the more complex move from older, static sectors that are no longer capable of generating export earnings to newer, dynamic sectors that can. Some of them might have industrial features, such as the new products of the renewable-energy and biotechnology sectors; some might have service features, such as new processes in the medical field.The second point is that the foundation of China-U.S. economic cooperation and trade remains strong.

The Chinese are confident about a bright future for China-U.S. economic cooperation and trade.Top Chinese legislator Bangguo Wu, Chairman of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress, cited these points during a forum in Phoenix.The first point is that the fact that the Chinese and American economies are mutually complementary has not changed. The second point is that the foundation of China-U.S. economic cooperation and trade remains strong. And third, the economic restructuring strategies of China and the United States will open up new areas of cooperation. (, September 9 2009)

According to Brent Scowcroft, Co-Chair, Committee on Science, Security and Prosperity, in an address to the U.S. House Of Representatives, "Advances in science and technology now occur throughout Europe, in Russia and Japan, and also in the developing economies of China, India and Brazil. Thus the number of access points to advanced science and technology have grown considerably and perhaps more to the point, outside the control of the United States. (The National Academies, "For Congress," February 25 2009)

Many scholars believe to maintain and enhance U.S. technological superiority entails encouraging and enabling the traditional bases: the university system, with its numerous scientists and engineers; the free-market system, with its numerous innovators and entrepreneurs; and the education system for the general population (obviously in great need of improvement). (, November- December 2009)

Another pillar of maintaining the prominent role of the United States is to re-create a successful American way of war for current circumstances. The country should normally seek to solve its problems without resorting to using the regular U.S. military for any counterinsurgency operations at all. Rather, the primary focus of the U.S. military should be on deterring war and, if war comes, defeating the military forces of other great powers in all forms of 21st-century warfare. The reason we are now attacked only at sub-conventional levels is not that no motive can exist for attacks against us at other levels; it is because no one dares. (, November- December 2009)

Finally, the United States has to learn again how to act like a world leader again. For almost two decades, U.S. political leaders have often acted toward other nations, and particularly toward other great powers, in a way guaranteed to provoke their annoyance and disdain, and even their anger and contempt.  

With talk from American political commentators centered on “soft power” and the attractiveness of American popular culture to the rest of the world, it is usually forgotten that this popular culture is chiefly popular with the young—particularly those young who are still irresponsible, rebellious and reckless. It does not often attract the mature, particularly those mature enough to be the leaders of their families, communities or countries who are responsible for their security and prosperity. (Margaret H. and Melvin L. DeFleu, Global Beat Syndicate, New York University, 2002)

In short, American popular culture is a culture for adolescents, not for adults, and adults around the world know and act upon this truth. If American leaders want to lead the leaders of other countries, they will have to act like mature adults, not like the attention-seeking celebrities of American popular culture.  This requires us to pay some attention to both the cultural style of American leadership and the power context in which it is exercised. (, November- December 2009)

Other countries learn of American Idealism. U.S. political leaders in turn really believe that American ideals should be promoted for their own sake, for their “universal validity," rather than as a legitimation or cover for U.S. interests.Leaders of other countries often cannot really believe that U.S. political leaders think that American ideals should be promoted for their own sake, for their “universal validity," rather than as a legitimation or cover for U.S. interests. If American leaders want to impress such leaders of other countries, they will have to act in the style of realists, and not in the style of idealists.  
"Americans should be forced to see how ridiculous they appear to the rest of the world! They should listen to someone else's version of themselves--to anyone else's version. Every country knows more about America than Americans know about themselves! And Americans know absolutely nothing about any other country."   -- John Irving from A Prayer for Owen Meany

Shanghai World Financial Tower View


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