T Nation

The U.S. and China

So, what do you guys think of this?


Pretty typical behaviors or storm clouds on the horizon?

I lived in China for 9 years, and one of the reasons I’m not going back is the rise of Chinese nationalism. While I was there, most people treated me well and I had a great time and made a lot of friends. Most people there care more about making money and raising their family than international issues. Sort of like Americans.

But the Chinese people rioted against Japanese products and threatened Japanese people in China over a bunch of rocks in the seas between their lands. I found myself thinking, do I want to be here if China and America get into a big enough diplomatic incident over Taiwan, Vietnam, or the Philippines? Even some of my students started showing signs of resenting the need to learn English to study in superior American universities.

China was once the center of the world, so much so that for centuries they didn’t even have ministers for foreign relations, just minsters in charge of protocol for when ambassadors came from other countries to determine how low those ambassadors had to bow when swearing their nation’s loyalty to China. Colliding with the British Empire was a huge shock to them, and the resulting European imperialism an embarrassment they are now trying to purge from their minds.

question, paules.

It’s always been said that the Chinese (in terms of the Government) are much more “pragmatic”.

In other words; they tend to be “less-difficult” to deal with, and that if something can be shown to be to their advantage and/or to the advantage of China…one can negotiate. (As opposed to trying to deal with religious fanatics, Grand Leaders, Ayatollahs and the like).

What are your thoughts?

I think that is how they were, until they realized how much weight they had to throw around. In their foreign policy they spent years using soft power, playing nice with their neighbors to build trade and make money. It worked really well. Now they are leaning more and more towards playing tough, turning trade networks into an economic sphere of influence to counter our military superiority and ensure a flow of the raw materials they need to keep the economic engine going. Then their trade partners go to the US for protection, China lays off, trade resumes, and then China plays hardball again.

In the short run I believe China will make lots of small gains because the US is distracted by so many issues around the world. But in the long run China’s pollution and aging population will, according to the University of Beijing, result in an economic contraction starting around 2040. The medical costs and need to import food and possibly water will be too great a burden by then. But then, I just read that two fusion power plants are being built, one in China and one in France, and both are scheduled to come on line in the 2030s, so it’s a race for future world energy dominance. Once those are on line, all predictions are off.