Writing intermittently on life, politics, and society

Our overlords to be

I caught this interview with Chinese students of international politics on Channel 4 News last night that I thought was worth sharing, especially with my American friends who tend to be fed a steady diet of “the Chinese are coming to get you!” by their media and politicians.

I have issues with some of their arguments but I thought one student, Zhao Liang, had a decent analysis highlighting the difference between the perception and reality of China’s rise, it starts at around 4:00, here’s what she said:

Power is the ability to coerce or influence others. But what we see right now is only capacity but no power. Because although China is economically now the second in gross GDP, the Chinese government is facing so many problems domestically. When others see China they see: Oh, 8% (growth) per year. But when the Chinese see itself they see unemployment, they see inflation, they see the rising cost of households.

A good friend of mine has a post up on her site about what American Exceptionalism means to her. I noticed in the comments one person who was particularly concerned with US decline, claiming that the US is “fast becoming just another of the many”. It’s a sentiment I’ve encountered quite a bit. In spite of the fact that the vast majority of ordinary Americans still have standards of living that are the envy of the vast majority of the rest of the world.

The US is in a bad place right now. The fragility, and the real pain people are experiencing as a result of the economic crisis, have shaken many American’s confidence in their country. And stories about the growth of Brazil, India, and especially China, lacking nuance and complexity, only fuel the anger and anxiety.


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