Monday, April 14, 2008

Could the 21st century be China's century?

When the Berlin wall fell, the Soviet Union collapsed, and Nelson Mandela was freed, it seemed as though the worldwide march towards democracy was unstoppable. We in the West assumed that economic progress was tied to democratic progress. China's meteoric rise has gone to show how wrong we were. To quote Charles Moore from Saturday's Telegraph:
We in the West have been brought up to think that to be rich, you have to be free. But Deng had no such thought. The Chinese communists had once proclaimed the defeat of capitalism: they now proclaimed its rebirth in their own interests.....

....As the choice of Berlin for the Olympic Games in 1936 marked Hitler's success and international acceptance, so the choice of Beijing for 2008 marks China's. But only since the Olympic torch started its would-be triumphal progress round the world have we begun to notice this virtual fait accompli, and to resent it.
He also makes an interesting note about critics of America...
We have spent much time in recent years complaining about America's abuse of power. Sometimes the criticism is justified, but we have hardly begun to consider the alternative, and how appalling it would be.

Whenever we attack America, we do so in the knowledge that it has a visible system of self-correction that might listen to us. It has a constitutional structure which is built to accommodate differing views. China has nothing of the sort, and never has had.

It has become fashionable amongst the European intelligentsia to attack America for every ill in the world from global warming to capital punishment. Have they even begun to think about what the world would be like if China became the world's biggest military and economic power. That day is drawing ever nearer, and I have a feeling that even "old Europe" will look back nostalgically to the 1990s when America was the world's sole superpower.