Sunday, November 22, 2009

No-Drama Obama and the Middle Kingdom

If ever proof was needed of the disconnect between the Mainstream Media (MSM) and reality, it was on show this week.  While the pundits lamented that Obama looked weak during his 9 day trip to Asia, Amy Goodman was interviewing British writer Martin Jacques (pronounced Jakes) about his new book:  “When China Rules the World”.

According to Jacques, China isn’t so much a nation-state as a “civilization state”.  In other words, while nation states didn’t form until the second millennium of our era, this vast country has shared one civilization for a couple of thousand years.  China’s civilization is China, even today.  That civilization was China under a long line of Emperors, under Mao’s communism and the Great Leap Forward, and it’s still China under Hu Jintao’s state capitalism.

As an example Jacques cited the rise of Mandarin in what used to be China’s “tributary states” - the rest of Asia.  Mandarin is often taught as a third language, after English.  Jacques expects that American ways of thinking that spread around the world, will be replaced by Chinese ways of thinking. This is of more than anecdotal interest: the question of whether they are competitors, challengers or a threat to the United States, are not the way the Chinese do see the world.

Perhaps because he went to school in Indonesia, Obama understands the way the Chinese think, answering critics that the purpose of this first visit was establish a rapport. Those who criticize him for not “getting more” our of his visit to China, not only don’t understand China, they live on another planet.  China owns our economy, lock, stock and barrel.  Where would we be if they sold off their Treasury bonds?  As for it someday being a military threat, nothing in what I have read, including the conservative British Economist supports that suspicion.  Yes, they are determined to get their hands on as much of the world’s raw materials as possible in this genuine leap forward, as I have written before, sending engineers and workmen to exploit riches in Africa and Latin America.  But we can hardly fault them for doing, under state capitalism, what we did under robber baron capitalism.

As for human rights, are we so sure that we’re better than they when continue sending people to foreign countries to be tortured to protect our security?  Every government does things that Human Rights defenders disapprove, depending on its particular circumstances. We do renditions, China locks up dissidents.  There is dirty laundry everywhere,  and everywhere, citizens fight back.  Every government shares with its pairs reprehensible practices of one kind or another against individuals.

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