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Recap: China syndrome

Written By: - Date published: 1:56 pm, April 19th, 2009 - 8 comments
Categories: democracy under attack, International - Tags:

And there’s not much we can do about it because China is too important to us. It is the engine of the world’s economic growth. If Western countries want to continue to grow, they must trade more with China and that means remaining on good terms with the Chinese Government. Even if the West were to sacrifice warm relations with China for more strident defence of democratisation it would probably do no good. China can out bid the West for the allegiance of target countries in nearly every way, and its power is growing rapidly at the West’s (and particularly, the US’s) expense.

American rightwing thinking and military planning increasingly envisions eventually conflict with China (you didn’t think the US was buying all those F-36s to bomb terrorists did you?) but that just shows the out-datedness and bankruptcy of rightwing thought. There will be no war with China: there is no casus belli, the economic and human costs are too great for modern democracies to countenance, we are too interdependent, and China’s military is too strong.

What to do then, if we want to continue spreading democracy and not see the international stage increasingly dominated by a non-democratic actor? The only option is to build relations with China at every level. As it opens its society more we must engage with the Chinese people through trade, tourism, and growing inter-personal ties. As Chinese people become more exposed to life in democratic countries, the more they are demanding the same freedoms for themselves. We must encourage this process.

The Chinese Government’s actions to stifle freedom and democracy dismay and anger us but turning our backs on China on will do nothing to change things. Instead, we must build bridges with the country that, either way, will have most influence over the shape of the world in coming decades. The cornerstone of a democratic future is a democratic China.

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8 comments on “Recap: China syndrome ”

  1. Con 1

    More than a bit naive, this.

    In the case of Fiji, the govt of NZ (and other “liberal democracies”) would have Fiji return to the ethnically divided electoral system established after a series of coups; a system designed to entrench the power of elites, specifically by fostering racial division as a way of weakening the political power of the working class. They would have Qarase’s notoriously corrupt govt back in the trough, and the original coupsters amnestied. This we are supposed to believe is “good governance”.

  2. BLiP 2

    zao shang hao, Laoban – start practising!

  3. Over the past 20 centuries two countries have been the dominant country for one century each, England and the United States. One country has dominated for the other 18 centuries, China. Will this repeat, and if so what does this mean?

  4. Excellent post – the best security for Taiwan long term is for the PRC to see how a province of China is a stable, vibrant liberal democracy.

    South Korea went on a path from authoritarianism to vibrant liberal democracy as well, and has been a great success. As PRC citizens become wealthier, and have more time to do more than just survive, and own property they want protected from each other (and corrupt officials), they’ll demand more accountability. The only way the CPC can unite China is playing the xenophobic card, the less Chinese believe this is credible the better!

  5. Ken Shock 5

    There has be a major strategic error made by Australia and New Zealand, in my view. There are two rising super powers in Asia, as discussed here, China has many issues that endanger democracy in our neighboring states, and which long term could lead to China’s hegemony over all the Pacific.
    Given that this is a looming issue, and has been for many years – why has Australasian foreign policy not placed India on an equal footing with China. here we have a Commonwealth member, the World’s largest democracy, English speaking, British law – and rapid economic growth. In NZ, India has been dissed because they never signed the non proliferation treaty. Yeah, but they have NOT proliferated, and China has. So Helen Clark only visited India once, and the visit was marred by the ‘nuclear’ issue. Now John Key has made no move toward India.
    This is just plain stupid in my view, why have free trade deals with both countries not been simultaneously sought??? What is the matter with competition, the negotiations would have led to a better deal for NZ from both ???
    I suspect some very powerful international bankers who have heavily invested in China have quietly steered this situation – the kind of people who could care less about Democracy – or New Zealand’s long term independence…….

  6. Ag 6

    Maybe democracy isn’t as good as you think it is. It’s doing a lousy job of dealing with climate change.

    You need a lot more than just the ability to cast a vote to make it work, and in these other areas virtually every supposed democracy falls flat. The unreflective democracy worship in our society helps hide this ugly fact.

  7. Grant McKenna 7

    In 1912 my great-grandfather’s brother [as then UK Home Secretary] made a speech in which he stated that the chances of the UK and Germany going to war were slim because of their strong trade links; war often comes not because of the quest for advantage but because of the fear that others will gain advantage.

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