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article imageOp-Ed: China is the new America

By Jason Li     Oct 17, 2009 in Politics
There is an article today in the IHT about Russia copying the Chinese’s model of governance. This shows that global political influences is shifting hands, from America to China.
This is part of the phenomenon that traces China’s extending reach. And a milestone when it comes to the nature of their influence: never before has a superpower turn to China for political expertise. For China, it is a huge jump from being a vital player in 6-party talks with N. Korea.
This strengthening of China’s economic AND NOW political influence isn’t going to stop. Soon it might even rival America’s ideological imperialism.
It didn’t happen overnight.
China, partially thanks to the economic debacle of the last two years, now controls the world’s purse-strings. She is the world’s biggest holder of US debt and is one of the few countries in the world revising up their economic growth forecast, from 7% to 8.2%.
She also somewhat singlehandedly moderated the economic instability’s potentially devastating impact. Cash-strapped governments, like America, borrow money from her to keep their economies on life-support, while she funds her own stimulus package.
There is no doubt that she is a goliath in today’s global economic stage. That was unfathomable just a few decades ago. Conventional wisdom then was: how can a communist country, with a central command economy, with millions of people starving, ever have a shot at at being a financial hub?
Turns out politics and economics, though intrinsically tied together, can be unraveled so that Communism as an ideology can co-exist with a capitalist market. China’s experience shows that this combo of communism and capitalism even works to its benefit, because many capitalistic-acting corporations (like Sinopec) in reality, actually belong to the government. So the governments keeps the billions, or even trillions, of dollars in profit raked in.
Because of this, more Chinese citizens are becoming salaried workers, creating a sizable middle-class demographic who can afford iPhones and Prada purses. Luxury brands flock to China not so much because of China wooing investors, but more because now there are the nouveau riche looking for things to spend their wealth on.
Meanwhile, the American government sinks deeper into debt because their brand of democracy espouses the private financial sector, which is perfectly adept at finding loopholes in the legal system. The rich evade taxes, outsource manufacturing (and service), make lots of money. The money though, goes into the pockets of a select class of people at the very top of the social pyramid who run the financial sector. Most middle-class people are happy because they have enough to spend.
It’s only when the economic elite screw up (aka 2008), do the masses realise that there’s something intrinsically wrong with their economic system. Too bad their government can only do so much, because of two words starting with ‘B’ and ‘D’. They have a shrinking budget with and increasing deficit. The country is still trying to sort out the mess, while the economic elite bail in their ‘golden parachutes’. No wonder few Americans care now about ideology, democracy and human rights abuses in Burma, Iran etc.
China, because the government has the capacity, trudges ahead. People are comfortable and continue to work. Countries like Russia are beginning to take note. This superpower, once one-half of the bipolar world in the 1950s to 1980, now realises that she might have missed something their ‘little communist cousin’ didn’t.
I think that it’s only a matter of time before other totalitarian countries like Vietnam and Burma to do likewise. Countries will think to themselves: doesn’t this system look like a win-win situation for me? The government keeps power, with the assurance that economic forces will keep deserving people fed and comfortable (meritocracy). As we know, well-fed people don’t revolt. Well, at least not with the intensity and vitriol of oppressed, starving masses.
And even when some do, like in Tibet, the government would be more than capable of quashing dissent. Sure there will be condemnation of the atrocities but it just takes a few weeks before the world forgets. A small price to pay.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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