China, the next world superpower?

In recent years, since China began its unprecedented economic boom and its transition to a market-style economy, there has been absolutely momentous admiration for the Chinese economic miracle and countries have been all but jumping over the moon to embrace China politically and economically. Everyone has been rushing to sign trade agreements with China and invest in China, and both political leaders and the media are obsessed with their praise of booming China. Declarations that China will be the next world superpower are routine, and to a large extent these predictions come with a sense of optimism and elation.

While I won’t deny for a second that China’s economic growth in recent years has been quite incredible, I find all this admiration completely over-the-top and unwarranted. Behind the façade of the ‘new China’ is the cold reality that China is one of the most organized and repressive totalitarian dictatorships in recent world history, a country which flagrantly dismisses even the most primitive human rights and democratic standards. Among my criticisms are following:

  • China is a dictatorship
  • China operates large scale ‘reeducation through labour’ camps, where petty criminals and political dissidents perform slave labour for the government.
  • China does not have an independent judiciary.
  • The Chinese political and economic systems are riddled with obscene levels of corruption and lack of transparency.
  • Lack of transparency is the Chinese financial system continues to make investment in China, and therefore the long-term sustainability of economic growth, uncertain.
  • There is no freedom of expression in China, be it at the personal or mass-media levels. All forms of mass-media are government censored, the internet is filtered via the so-called ‘Great Firewall of China’, as is personal expression of political views.
  • China actively oppresses certain religious group, the most well-known of course being the Falun Gong movement.
  • China continues to occupy Tibet, where it continues to systematically destroy Tibetan culture and the Tibetan race, which, many argue, amounts to genocide.
  • China facilitates a massive black-market in human organs and body parts, fuelled by the world-topping number of executions it carries out.
  • China routinely appropriates private land for development purposes, without compensation.

My question to world political leaders, the mass media, and everyone else who has jumped on the ‘praise China’ bandwagon, is “aren’t there countries more worthy of praise than China?”. Obviously world political leaders and the mass media are not going to comment on this blog, so I’ll answer the question myself. The answer, of course, is yes, and in particular I’d like to use the example of India because it’s a country in a very comparable situation.

India is a country with a population on the same order as China, is equally well posed to become a world superpower, and in much the same timeframe. India’s economy has been experiencing the same levels of unprecedented economic growth as China – on the order of 10% per annum. India, unlike China, has fully embraced democratic values and is a fully functioning parliamentary democracy, with an independent judicial system. None of the above criticisms of the Chinese regime apply to India.

In summary, there are two points I’d like to make. Firstly, the incessant praise that China receives is completely over-the-top. There’s really only one overwhelming point worthy of praise, and that is the level of economic growth. Secondly, is the Chinese government really the type that we should all be rushing to appease, praise, and promote as the next world superpower, the overdue response to American economic and political supremacy? For all it’s worth, despite my severe misgiving about American politics and current world leadership, I for one am not looking forward to the day when a government such as the present Chinese one reigns supreme.

7 thoughts on “China, the next world superpower?”

  1. There’s a few technical glitches with this blog:

    1) For some reason, if I follow a link from my Google Reader RSS feed of your blog to a blog posting, I get the error:

    Warning: Unknown modifier ‘/’ in /var/www/public_html/people/rohde/blog/wp-content/plugins/google-hilite.php on line 107

    The posting is not displayed. The URL this happens with is the as if I clicked a link from the main page of your blog (which does work), so it might be a problem processing the referring URL (just a guess).

    2) If I forget to enter my Name or Email, my post will be rejected, which is fine….but if I hit the back button, the post disappears completely.

    3) The bit of math to weed out spambots seems to stored the expected answer as a session variable. This means if you open two copies of the blog posting, and post a reply in the first copy, your math will be rejected, since it is expecting the answer from the more recent copy of the page. This leads to the cheeky message “you didn’t pass math” or some such to a seemingly valid answer. It’s the web server that’s confused.

  2. I aggree with your opinion that “the incessant praise that China receives is completely over-the-top”. I believe that Chinese will urge their government to correct these problems in order to protect themselves. For example, as I know, it is discussed widely to abolish the ‘reeducation through labour’ in China these years. No government can fool people forever.

  3. Quite right Peter.
    Though I’d caution you against judging Chinese governance and business practices against Western governance and business practice. Guanxi networls can look alot like corruption and nepotism from our persepctive, but serve important functions that are less visible to us.
    What disturbs me the most about China is that the government is legitimised not only by its economic management but also by this really hard-core nationalist discourse.

  4. First of all, Chinese people do not care about politics, only money.
    And the fact is that we have so much money now that we will take over the world with money and population in the near future to become the absolute.

    Even your weak western governments accept tibet and taiwan as part of china and want to do business with us-regardless of our ‘human rights’ 🙂

    And, forget what people may think in China. The power of CCP is absolute and there is no organised resistance. Any attempt at resistance is easily crushed.

    India a superpower? It has very very poor infrastructure, half the people want independance or fight for religion, caste whatever… they have no resources or power to do anything outside their own country. Their leaders are too foolish for that 🙂 We kick them around all the time and they accept it, soon we will take southern tibet by force from the indians and the world will accept it.

  5. this a reply is to Wu,
    first of all, i dont think people fight over religion, i do believe that many political parties try to make religion an issue to win some votes. By the way we had a muslim president last term and a sikh Prime minister this term.As for u kicking indians around, i truly believe that India should take back the part of ladakh u have from us since 1962, when u back stabbed us.i use the term back stabbed because our PM visited China just before that for promoting freindship between the two nations . Believe me we would rip u apart if u again think of attacking India.

    India sure is on the way to become a superpower but China is still a better nation, but some A@#oles like u make your country look bad.i wont talk bad of china because i respect the nation and its people but i still expect the same.

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