Saturday, December 8, 2007

My Two Cents on the “China Rise”

Ever since Beijing was chosen for the 2008 Olympics, China has been prepping to peacock itself to the entire world. From rush programs to clean up its own smog to teaching its own citizens and merchants how to deal “politely” with foreigners, China is going the whole nine-yards in reputation building.

But the biggest thing that troubles me about China is that, over the past few years since their economic boom, their focus seems so geared on becoming a “great nation” that they seem to lose sight of what it means to be a great nation. Yes, every nation isn’t perfect and every nation has its number of flaws (even America), but hear me out on this.

Based on the current trend, much of China’s focus is presently devoted to economic growth and public image. But what about improving human rights and religious freedoms? But what about proving itself as a moral nation to the international community, rather that continue to sell weapons to such countries as Sudan and North Korea? But what about proving itself as a nation of economic integrity, by pumping out quality products without cutting corners or adding in dangerous substances that can be detrimental to anyone exposed?

China is currently in a similar position that the United States was during its Industrial Revolution. Its economy is booming and its upper class population is swelling. But concepts, such as workers’ rights and environmental regulation, are still in infantile stages within the nation and, as a result, both the global environment and its own people have suffered. And to make things worse, countries that buy Chinese products suffer as well. In my opinion, China is growing in success faster than it can adapt to the responsibilities that come with success. And unless it’s willing to take a good look at itself, beyond the seduction of economic wealth and the superficial glitter of public image—it will never truly be a great nation.


Pierce said...

China's rise also comes at the great cost of pollution and global warming. China is now the leading nation in producing Carbon Monoxide and 16 of the world's 20 most polluted cities are in China. Even when the US reduces it's pollution output, surprising as it may sound, we are getting some of China's pollution on our westcoast.

hill country cowboy said...

Nice comments, and I agree, especially concerning matters of human rights. If only their leaders understood that championing the moral highground is a signifier of a modern state's arrival at enlightenment. (Of course, departing that is also possible (witness current news about "destroyed" tapes), but this is a tangent.)

Nonetheless, as most things in today's world, things have a tendency to be more complicated than they seem. It is worth noting that much of the motivations driving the "unrestrained" industrial output of China are economic incentives whose source lies predominately in Western economies. In simplistic terms, if there is no demand for their products and at such significantly low prices, there would would be no reason for them to pull out "all the stops" to meet that demand. If we want them to curb their over-enthusiastic drive, we need to curb our buying from them. In broad macro-economic terms, manufacturing for the world's needs has simply concentrated in a certain region of the globe. Accordingly, pollution (as a by-product of such activity) would also be denser in that region to the advantage of other parts of the world which would not have to harbor those facilities. Add to this realization the fact that, in this country, we consume the most fuel and generate the largest carbon foot print per capita BY FAR (and for a FAR longer sustained period of time), and we come to a situation where they could levy the same environmental charges at us.

There is a saying about throwing stones and glass houses...


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