Since then there has been a search to find a new King of the Global
The 9/11 attacks in 2001 gave it the opportunity and encouragement to
try remaking the
Then came economic crisis: the credit and
China has assertively placed on the table its
claims to international status and authority; recognition of its
geopolitical rank and diplomatic weight; and its demand that
international opposition or interference cease with respect to its
political claims on Tibet,
It wants economic as well as political respect. China has been financing the American deficit (and its own exports) for years now and is unmoved by American and West European complaints about the managed exchange value of its currency, its trade practices, and what widely are considered its predatory practices in securing foreign raw materials for Chinese industry.
Now there is political trouble between
Many since 1989 have promoted China as a model for speedy economic development, a candidate to become the new "top nation" through state mobilization of popular energies and ambition. India was at the same time promoted to second place in the Asian competition by showing how similar results could more humanely be produced by democratic government.
China acquired an increasingly glamorous reputation in the West because of its very rapid growth and the soaring living standards of that small minority of Chinese who live in the modernizing sector of the economy. India has acquired the same reputation with the added advantage of democracy.
In both cases world rank has been claimed (and often rewarded in the press) by competitive GDP -- in these cases, initially at least, resulting from relatively unsophisticated offshore production for Western markets.
This is now changing, but it will be a long time before China and India will manufacture innovative high-technology goods of autonomous design, competitive with North American and European producers. It will be even longer before standards of living throughout China and India remotely approach North American and West European levels.
By that measure, most observers would name the European Union the new world's King of the Hill.
But politics have a potentially destructive role to play in all this, both domestic politics and international politics. China has an extremely dangerous and unresolved transition to make from one-party dictatorship, ruled by the self-nominated successors to a leadership that gave China a half-century of government that at best has been despotic, and at worst rivaled, or surpassed, Stalinism.
The Dalai Lama is a symbol of what has happened to democracy in past and present China. Indian democracy is real although ramshackle, riddled with corruption and petty despotism at local levels.
The Barack Obama government in
It has been making trouble with
With respect to China,
The Taiwan issue will nonetheless eventually
find a sane resolution if American secretaries of state and Chinese
governmental authorities can find it in themselves to refrain from
bombastic mutual denunciation and efforts at political and economic
blackmail over matters, like
Economic progress and political development will eventually decide
who is future King of the Hill in
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(C) 2010 William Pfaff