The Superpower It Could Be One Day

Posted by M ws On Sunday, December 2, 2012 0 comments
A few days ago, Angela sent me the following article which I enjoyed reading so much. Before posting it, I Googled for the original site and discovered it was first posted by BBC HERE. Even though it is quite a lengthy discussion, believe me when I say it is a very good read. Take care and have a great day! A Point Of View: What kind of superpower could China be? was written by Martin Jacques, an economist and author of When China Rules the World.


China is on course to becoming a superpower - but not in the way many expect, writes economist Martin Jacques.

Beijing these days is positively throbbing with debate. It may not have the trappings of a western-style democracy, but it is now home to the most important and interesting discussions in the world.

When I addressed an audience of young Chinese diplomats at their foreign ministry a year ago, it was abundantly clear that a fascinating debate is under way about what kind of foreign policy might be appropriate for the global power China is in the process of becoming.

What will China be like as a superpower? You might think it is already - it is not.

Its military power is puny compared with that of the US. While America has 11 aircraft carriers, China only commissioned its first last month - based on, of all things, a Ukrainian hull.

The only sense in which China is a superpower is economic - that is, its economy is already over half the size of the US economy and projected to overtake it around 2018, notwithstanding its reduced growth rate of 7%. But this is overwhelmingly a function of China's huge population. In terms of technology and living standards it lags far behind the US.

So when we speak of China as a superpower, we are talking about the future.

A common reaction to the idea of China as a superpower is that it will be like the US - except worse. Worse because it is not a democracy, it has a communist government and because its people are not like us. I guess that gives some the jitters.

In fact we should not expect China to behave in the manner of the US. It will be very different. And nor should we assume that it will necessarily be worse.

Why will it be different? Because its history is so different. Articles about China's growing involvement with Africa - in terms of trade and investment - often talk of the "new colonialism".

Beware historical ignorance. China has never colonised any overseas territories. Overseas empires were a European speciality, with Japan getting in on the act for a short while too.

China could have colonised South East Asia, for example, in the early 15th century. It had the resources, it had enormous ships, many times bigger than anything Europe possessed at the time. But it didn't.

That is not to say China ignored its neighbours. On the contrary. For many, many centuries it dominated them - as a result of its sheer size and far more advanced level of development. China's relationship with them was based not on colonialism but what we now know as the tributary system. It neither ruled them nor occupied them. Rather, in return for access to the Chinese market and various forms of protection, the rulers of tribute states were required to give gifts - literally tribute - to the Emperor as a symbolic acknowledgement of China's superiority.

The tributary system comprised what we know today as East Asia, home to one-third of the world's population. It stretched from Japan and Korea to the Malay Peninsula and parts of Indonesia.

CLICK HERE for the rest of this fantastic article.

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