China Reflections (April 7, 2007)
Unsurprisingly, my April 4 entry China's House of Cards drew an interesting variety of reader responses.
Keen observer S.S. saw the U.S. in the "house of cards":
When I saw that house of cards, my FIRST thought was that every one of those cards are also currently being played in the United States economic game.Frequent contributor (and ace blogger) Fred Roper had a similar reaction:
Long-time correspondent S.B. commented on exports and the ties between the U.S. and China:
Here's the problem with China: they built an economy dependent on exports. So if they can't buy their own stuff now, how in the world can they do it after income is reduced when the US slowdown accelerates?Long-time contributor Martin notes the rising social unrest in China:
How many "riots" did they have last year? 75,000? I took a lot of Chinese history classes at university and although I no longer remember the order of the dynasties, I still remember lots of names of "rebellions" and "incidents" and other uprisings. I studied Chinese, and lived in Taiwan for a while, where I sometimes witnessed miniature riots when people cut in line at the movie theater.At Martin's suggestion, I did a search to confirm the "75,000 riots last year" and discovered an interesting interview with Ronald Aronica and Mtetwa Ramdoo, Authors of "The World is Flat? - A Critical Analysis". Here is an excerpt:
Life in rural communities in China, India and elsewhere is tough. Are we to displace a non-money economy with formerly self-sufficient peoples moving to the mega-cities to live in slums? In the recent PBS documentary, China From the Inside, rural people dislocated due to the damming of rivers were given new high density housing. But as one of them exclaimed, we have no jobs and cannot raise our food anymore. Relocation from dam areas, like the Three Gorges, is causing huge social upheaval (75,000 riots in China in 2005).Knowledgeable reader Greg contributed this first-hand experience of the cash leaving China for "safe havens" in North America such as Los Angeles and the west coast of Canada:
One other problem you didn't mention in China's House of Cards, but I think it's a big one, is the flight of China's best and brightest, or maybe that's crookedest and best connected, to foreign safe havens, along with millions if not billions of dollars in ill-gotten gains, er, profits, which thereby flowed out of China.New reader Kevin offered a wide-ranging historical perspective, suggesting China is beginning a "Golden Age":
The most important thing one has to grasp when comes to the current development of China is to understand what "Golden Ages" of histories are all about. "Golden ages" of civilizations are essentially movements of collective social consciousness. Think back on the Golden Ages of Greece, Rome, and that of the Renaissance. Were those times of great upheavals, rampant warfares, wide spread social injustices, corruptions, poverties, ..etc. Yes! But what makes those times "Golden Ages" golden were the collective upsurges in social consciousness to do better and better.Indeed. Thank you, readers, for such a diversity of observations.
I'd like to add one factor which is rarely if ever discussed: the quasi-religious nature of belief in China's rise to superpower status. Those who hold fast to this belief quite often, it seems, also vehemently believe in the penumbra of that faith, i.e. that the U.S. is in permanent decline. Indeed, most believers in China's inexorable and deserved rise to (or recovery of) great-power status take keen delight in any evidence (blowback) that the U.S. is faltering under the burdens of "Empire."
This "religion" is reminiscent of the similarly quasi-religious "faith" in the goodness and rightness of the Soviet Union exhibited by leftists during the '30s, '40s, '50s and '60s, right up to the publication of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's epic account of political repression and mass murder, The Gulag Archipelago: 1918-1956 (I recommend all three volumes: The Gulag Archipelago 2 and Gulag Archipelago 3)
In those by-gone days, those who either secretly or openly loathed the U.S. sought a "another model" or a "counterweight," and any criticism of their belief in the USSR was treated as absolute heresy. Now the same phenomenon can be found on the subject of China. This inability to brook healthy skepticism is a sign of deep insecurity, in an individual or an entire group or culture.
Another quasi-religion can be found on the opposite end of the ideological spectrum, for there are those who fervently believe China is not just acting on its own behalf but is actively undermining the U.S. in order to dominate Asia and the Pacific.
I am agnostic and therefore opposed to all rabidly hostile-to-skepticism fanaticism. Believe anything you want about China's "rightful role" or "return to greatness," just as you are free to hold a quasi-religious faith that the U.S. is destined to decline, go to war with China, etc.
I see China and the U.S. through a less ideological, less faith-based lens. The U.S. and China are inter-related to the point that some analysts call the duo "Chimerica." Each has immense problems, immense promise, great histories and great ambitions. What happens to each and to "Chimerica" will depend on the policies and decisions made by their leaders and then endorsed or rejected by their citizenry.
But if you respond as a "true believer" by striking out at any "heretical" questioning of your particular dogma, then don't expect to be taken seriously--here or any where else.
End-note: I was struck that no one disputed or even mentioned my Marxist-inspired critique of China's political contradictions. Is Marxism so discredited that a Marxist critique of an avowedly Communist government draws no notice? Does no one read "Theses on Feuerbach" or any of "Capital" anymore? Such a critique of China's political and economic structure is difficult to dismiss out of hand--unless of course, it's against your "religion."
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