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“China is Here, Mr. Burton” December 23, 2009

Posted by geoff in News.
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I’ve written, oh, say 30 or 40 posts on the ascendancy of China and its foreign policy machinations via its alliance with Russia and leadership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. There has been a lot to write about – China has had a very busy decade: expanding and modernizing its economy and military; establishing diplomatic and economic relationships in the Middle East, Africa, and South America; and consolidating its control of Asia.

Not just a busy decade. A very successful decade. China was a nobody in the 90’s, but is now a leader in the international scene.

China’s publicly stated goal has been to create a multipolar world, where the US is not the world’s only superpower. And, as of the Copenhagen conference, they have succeeded (about 5 years before I thought they would).

At Copenhagen, China treated President Obama and the US to a taste of life as a 2nd tier country, essentially announcing their assumption of superpower status:

What I saw was profoundly shocking. The Chinese premier, Wen Jinbao, did not deign to attend the meetings personally, instead sending a second-tier official in the country’s foreign ministry to sit opposite Obama himself. The diplomatic snub was obvious and brutal…

It has now become so obvious that even the liberal press can perceive the power shifts:

China knows it is becoming an uncontested superpower; indeed its newfound muscular confidence was on striking display in Copenhagen. Its coal-based economy doubles every decade, and its power increases commensurately. Its leadership will not alter this magic formula unless they absolutely have to.

Copenhagen was much worse than just another bad deal, because it illustrated a profound shift in global geopolitics. This is fast becoming China’s century, yet its leadership has displayed that multilateral environmental governance is not only not a priority, but is viewed as a hindrance to the new superpower’s freedom of action.

To restate the title (taken, of course, from a line in Big Trouble in Little China): China has arrived.

Comments»

1. Tushar - December 23, 2009

As I was reading about developments in Copenhagen, I was uneasy to find myself cheering China and jeering USA. But then I realized that I am not jeering USA but the idiots who are running it currently. There is this novel concept called preserving the interests of the country you head. The Won should try it sometimes.

The next garbage removal day is Nov 4, 2010.

2. geoff - December 23, 2009

There’s an article showing more of China’s new relationship with the US linked in Comment #5 at DPUD.

3. kevlarchick - December 23, 2009

Very good point Tushar.

And I seriously doubt that China will need to adhere any global warming crackdowns on industry since they are officially emerging from Third World status.

4. Eddie The Bear - December 23, 2009

ancient Chinese tradition has been to play one “barbarian” off the “other barbarian”. In this case, I wonder if the greenies and Euroweenies are one barbarian used to play off of us.

5. Sobek - December 23, 2009

“It has now become so obvious that even the liberal press can perceive the power shifts”

That’s been a major liberal goal for almost two decades now. Obama’s probably pretty happy that he managed to lower our country sufficiently.

6. Christopher Taylor - December 23, 2009

They’re a superpower in the same way that the USSR was: in other words, they are declared one, presumed one, and pretend to be one, but are so feeble and falling apart from the inside they’re like a pinata full of maggots. Might look all impressive from a distance but there’s nothing to them.

7. Tushar - December 23, 2009

Christopher,

I would have used those exact words 2-3 years ago. I doubt that is true now.

I was disappointed that Wen Jiabao did not bang the desk with a shoe in some Copenhagen meeting. That would have been historic, iconic, ironic and comic.

8. geoff - December 23, 2009

they are declared one, presumed one, and pretend to be one, but are so feeble and falling apart from the inside they’re like a pinata full of maggots.

People have been claiming that for years, yet China marches on.

“Their military is inferior.” So they modernized and strengthened it.

“They have no high tech capability.” But now they have rapidly growing semiconductor industry.

And our economy is nothing to brag about.

9. Tushar - December 23, 2009

A question to the experts here:

If the US Congress and Senate passes some bill – say mandating every one have insurance- and establishing 50 state level exchanges etc— that exceeds the powers granted to them under the constitution, can a state refuse to comply? For example, can they bar such an exchange from getting created? Prevent federal officials from running it, passing a state law that prohibits people from participating etc ?

10. Christopher Taylor - December 23, 2009

The entire Chinese economy is built on a stack of rotting cards, they’re propping it up constantly with exaggerated versions of Obama’s economic plans. It doesn’t work here, why on earth would anyone think it works peachy keen for the Chinese? That kind of economy can look good, for a time, from the outside but eventually it collapses.

But then, I remember when people were terrified of the awesome Soviet army and technological might. It wasn’t until the lies went away from the Soviets and the walls came down we all saw how crappy their stuff was.

11. geoff - December 23, 2009

But then, I remember when people were terrified of the awesome Soviet army and technological might.

The difference now is that we know what the Chinese have.

They stole it from us.

12. Tushar - December 23, 2009

Christopher,

I would prefer to assume that China has real strength and be proven wrong later, than the other way around.

13. Michael - December 23, 2009

The difference now is that we know what the Chinese have.

Really, the difference is that the Chinese have a market-based, capitalist economy, and a centuries-old entrepreneurial culture. They got the message that Soviet style central planning and the endless promulgation of meaningless Five Year Plans doesn’t work. That’s why Reagan, presciently, understood that the USSR was rotten at the core and about to collapse, so long as we kept the pressure on them.

You just can’t compare China to the USSR.

The biggest issue for China as an emerging global power is energy supplies, much like Japan prior to WWII. That’s why China flipped the bird at the rest of the world in Copenhagen.

It’s also why Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Unwisely, the U.S. was openly threatening Japan’s energy supplies, and Japan had almost no domestic resources. To this day, most Japanese think that we pushed them into the war, and their argument is not frivolous.

14. Michael - December 23, 2009

they’re propping it up constantly with exaggerated versions of Obama’s economic plans

No, they are propping their economy up with artificial foreign exchange rates that fuel an artificial export-driven economy. This creates an economic boom in China, but also leaves them with gigantic trade surpluses that they largely have to invest in paper issued by the United States Treasury.

Paper which only has value because it is backed by the full faith and credit of the United States.

Paper which Obama is knocking himself out to devalue.

Good times . . .

15. geoff - December 23, 2009

Paper which Obama is knocking himself out to devalue.

A possibility that has not escaped the notice of the Chinese. They’re smart, and they’re tough players on the field of geopolitics. The Obama administration doesn’t even know that there is a field.

16. Michael - December 23, 2009

I figure, we can always pay off China by swapping some of the Hawaiian Islands (Oahu for sure so they get the naval base) for debt forgiveness plus Taiwan. That would solve a whole bunch of thorny issues for everyone.

China could milk all that tourist money from the Japanese, the U.S. would be suddenly solvent, China could stop obsessing about Taiwan (having honorably sold it), Taiwan would become our new semi-autonomous territory kind of like Puerto Rico, we could move the Pacific Fleet to Taiwan right off their coast and keep our eyes on those Chink bastards, and China would have a forward Pacific base to project their own emerging naval power.

Win-Win!!!

Think outside the box, people.

17. mesa in Texas - December 23, 2009

Hostage Secret Satan time!!!


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