China currently stands alone in its ability to
weather virtually any storm the banking crisis in the U.S. whips up. With almost
$2 trillion in foreign currency reserves, China can afford to be unconcerned
about an economic decline in the West that spreads throughout the world, hurting
dependent and emerging economies from Pakistan to Panama.
China is not completely insulated from the economic crisis –
a slowdown in orders from abroad and a credit crunch at home will hurt the
Chinese economy like it hasn't been hurt before – but the difference is
preparation. China is prepared, socially and economically, for a slowdown.
The U.S. is not.
calls are beginning for China to step forward as a responsible stakeholder
and shore up the currencies and liquidity of the Asian economies and help ease
the pressure on European banks as well. China, in turn, assures the world that
it is "seriously" considering its options and the proposals of near-desperate
bankers hoping that China's 20-year economic rise will help defuse the West's
20-year economic decline.
China is now in a position of power that it may have been enjoying for years,
but it is now becoming even more apparent. The talk of China taking over the
world has always been a "what if" scenario accompanied by calls for
social and political reform and sidelong glances at the U.S., still considered
by many to be the preeminent power in the world. The next few years will see
more and more nations gathering under the umbrella of Chinese solvency and
leaving the Coalition of the Willing(ly Misled) behind.
For now, China is taking care of its own through land reform that should give
peasants in China the freedom to "lease
their land use rights to other individuals or companies, such as big farm contractors,
or to exchange them" and send hordes of country folk flocking toward
the cities with their loot looking for fortune. This is the latest in a development,
started after Deng Xiao Ping took over in 1979, that will bring the peasants
of China into the social fold and eventually urbanize the nation.
China hopes to protect its domestic and international interests through increasing
the sophistication of its military. In the final frontier, the U.S. is "apoplectic"
over the success of a Chinese space program that has now "changed
the game" with the recent Shenzhou manned space mission and the addition
of a surveillance satellite that passed within 30 mi. of the International
Space Station. According to the Richard Fisher in the Asia Times:
"By the middle of the next decade the PLA [People's Liberation Army] will
have a robust surveillance satellite network that will allow a many-times daily
target tasking on a global level. It will also have the ability to perform
'information operations' by being able to give a range of clients updates on
global U.S. military activities multiple times a day."
China might be getting those rushes of adrenaline one gets when victory is
nigh and your opponent lies struggling in your dust trail. America's irresponsible,
immoral leadership in the White House, on Wall Street, and by extension throughout
the world has finally come home to roost with this economic crisis. Now, with
the giant of the 20th century down and in trouble, all of the nations in the
world that have suffered under America's benevolent hegemony are looking for
somewhere to hide.
This is exactly what the Chinese leadership has hoped and prayed for and most
likely expected: the return of China to the center of the world.
Supposed allies of the U.S. are looking to China for help in these days of
crisis, with Thailand's deputy prime minister, Olarn Chaipravat, who is attending
Meeting, stating in the Sydney Morning Herald:
''The message of this initiative is for China to consider whether or not
China would open up its banking system and allow the strongest currency in
the world, which is the Chinese yuan, relative to anybody, to be the rightful
and anointed convertible currency of the world."
Pakistan's President Ali Asif Zardari just finished a visit to China in which
he declared that he would be ready to "visit
every three months" and that Pakistan's economic and security crises
are best solved through cooperation with China, not with the U.S.
The whole Asia-Europe Meeting is a sign of times to come. Nobody trusts U.S.
leadership anymore, and despite China's list of thuggish buddies (Burma, Sudan,
Iran, North Korea, etc.), protest-strangling Great Firewall, and tendency to
sell counterfeit and/or tainted goods, world
leaders are choosing China. What an incredible statement about the influence
and reputation of the U.S.
The bailouts engineered by the central banks of Europe and the U.S. represent
the desperation of thieves caught in the act together, not sympathy and goodwill
between two staunch allies. The collapse of Wall Street is the last act in
the tragedy of America's fall from leadership in the world.
What we will see is the decisive triumph of the
merchants in the low-level battle over what to do with China. Many of the campaigns
to halt human rights abuses in China will migrate to the fringe of U.S. policy,
if they haven't already, and the tone will ease.
The U.S. will not be able to confront nations with the arrogance of a world
leader and the righteous indignation of a moral compass. For many of us, this
is a development that has been a long time coming, but for most of America,
it will be something very new.
What Americans lack more than anything is a concept of history. It is absolutely
natural and normal and desirable for a nation to go through hardship
and struggle and eventual transformation. The era of the American Imperium,
dependent on historical ignorance and determined action, is over.
What is needed now is a domestic revival and a more nuanced and intelligent
approach to international relations. This means talking with people before
we bomb them. This means an emphasis on cooperation, not obedience.
China's sound economy and pragmatic, if despotic, leadership make whatever
happens in the coming American election into an opportunity to gain political
capital or financial assets. It's
a win-win either way.