In reality, the age-old nationalisms continue to be more powerful than the pull of WTO treaties and the fact that both nation’s people’s lunch at McDonald’s.
Arthur poses some China questions:
Where will it all lead? To the eventual de-escalation. No one wants war, but China certainly intends to make a point and make it strong. However, Beijing’s grandstanding is unlikely to have a desired effect on Japan; probably quite the opposite – the more assertive China becomes, the more Japan will want to ensure that it’s capable of responding.
Longer term, all we have are questions: how long can China maintain its current economic and political course? When will the Chinese middle class reach the critical mass to demand more than just economic freedom? Can China survive as a unitary state? What role will the rapidly increasing Christian population play? Most importantly: can East Asia last without war until China – eventually and hopefully – makes the transition to a reasonably free and reasonably democratic modern state?
This US State Department document lists China as a major drug-transit or major illicit drug-producing country, and one of the major sources of “precursor or essential chemicals used in the production of illicit narcotics.”
China has huge systemic problems: the most worrysome, to me, is the weakness of its banking system. China supports North Korea’s opressive regime’s nuclear program. Additionally, this 1997 article from The Economist says “China gives its critics ample reason to attack it. It does persecute Christians, dissidents and free thinkers. It does export goods made by prison labourers.” None of these have improved noticeably in the past eight years.
Yesterday a talk radio show was saying that China aims to kick the USA out of Asia, which is not a far-fetched notion, when one reads about China’s military buildup. The UN is unlikely to put much pressure on China, and China isn’t very likely to help in pressuring countries like Sudan, where it has extensive oil interests. At the same time, China’s expanding its economic interests in South America, particularly with Venezuela, Mexico, and Brazil
While economic news are optimistic, with extreme poverty in developing countries falling 25% since 1990 “thanks to strong economic growth in China, India, and other countries in Asia,” and might be further improved were that growth to continue, the question remains, where is China heading? As The Economist says this week, “The nationalist genie, once unbottled, could prove hard for China to restrain.”