Saturday Morning Coffee

International Affairs Specialist by day, Blogger Enthusiast by night. This is a sneak peek into my world that should be enjoyed with ample time and a good and very strong cup of java.

Chinese Fortune Cookies

China, China, China. What can I say, it’s a walking contradiction. How can a society, in some ways, have developed thousands of years in advance of the Western World but fall behind in others – way behind? After all, it was the Chinese who avoided the Plague by implementing hygenic measures; and it was the Chinese who invented gun powder. They should be more economically advanced with the best insitutions and scientific discovery. I guess that’s what a Civil war, a World war and dabbling in Maoist socialism gives you.

I think now though, they’ve finally gotten a hold of capitalism and is taking it for a ride. It’s been reported that China is leading the world in investments in alternative energies – but arent’ they the one of the world’s greatest emitters? Something that the US is aiming for and Canada has feebly given up. It’s ironic too that China would invest so heavily in wind and solar energies, knowing the long history that it’s had in striking up oil deals with auspicious leaders around the globe, notably Sudan , which others wouldn’t touch with a stick.

Democracy however isn’t important to China, money is. Loosening its grip on Tibetans or Taiwanese is unlikely to come any time soon, despite the support that the US may lend to them. At the same time, the tides of democracy are hard to quell in a growing and globalized world. Why else would Google have reported a major cyber attack and “also said hackers had infiltrated the private Gmail accounts of human rights activists, suggesting the effort might have been more than just mischief“. Using the internet to squash opposition, what kind of government does that? Kudos to Google for not packing up shop and leaving, but rather creating Goojje – Google’s little sister.

China has entered the 21st century with a bang, and to the bank I might add, but it hasn’t gone far enough. Coming to terms with the past would be a first step in identifying exactly who they, what their goals are and how they will go about in achieving it. No more claiming to be one thing and doing another. Next, identifying niche markets has worked fantastically and is likely to continue, along with the further development of the provinces, which is sure to reduce the number of poverty stricken families – imagine what a billion productive workers could do for the economy? I don’t dare think that minimum wage would rise soon as it’s cause for heavy investment from abroad. But one can only hope that with greater investment, the spread of web technologies and raising of living standards, a middle class will emerge to threaten the status quo. Something happend like that in 18th Century France, no?

Whatever may happen in the future, China will always be a major player in the world’s economy. But altering attitudes, behaviour and policy of the ruling elites to respect democratic values is another task entirely. We may just have to wait until the elders die out and a younger generation replaces them a la Democratic House. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t still advocate for change or get rid of sanctions or stop critisizing. It just means patience is necessary.


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February 2010
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