Friday, September 02, 2005

Western attitudes to China

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A divergence of thinking appears to be developing between the conservative Australian (John Howard) and US (George Bush)-led governments. Bush wants Howard to work on pushing China to universal values. Howard saids the relationship is not just opportunism. Howard saids he sees it as building on the things they have in common, and not being obsessed with the things that make them different. For Howard, values and power are separate. In contrast, Bush will only allow countries that share its values to have power in Asia.

Both leaders have a legitimate position since there are several issues to consider - both moral and strategic:
  1. China has made considerable progress shifting towards a modern free market. Market structures are changed by governments, but the values of the participants change more slowly and only implicitly. A great many Chinese still live in rural areas. They have more entrenched collectivist values and are thus prone to view east coast capitalism negatively - in terms of wealth disparities.
  2. China holds alot of US debt. Coersion by China might well result in a threat to repudiate that debt.
  3. Militarily - both countries are in a stalemate - neither willing to test the other. China could only move on North Korea.
  4. The Industrial Revolution that swept the 1600s Western World took 400 years to take hold, yet the US is expecting the same to occur in China in less than 10 years. It takes time for values to change.

Howard`s response seems somewhat mypoic though.

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Reason is the standard for debate.
- Andrew Sheldon www.sheldonthinks.com
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