Yes China is big, yes china is (still) growing fast, yes China wants to be more powerful on the world stage. And yes, China raises some challenges/risks to the western/OECD countries. But the level of the risks as they are today and in the near future are significantly overblown because to do so is useful to those who bang the drum.
And china itself faces many internal structural risks which are underweighed (or flat out ignored) both by those who want to tout China as a risk and by the Chinese government itself.
My favorite deal of the 1980s (1990) was when Martin Davis sold Pebble Beach to a Japanese developer. This was widely described in the press as evidence that the Japanese were about to take over the US (OMG the real estate value of the imperial palace exceeds the entire real estate value of California!!!!). Of course a few years later it was back in the hands of its original owners, the Pebble Beach company, for less than the Japanese buyers had paid. Now one story doesn't make a trend, but this high profile one is indicative of the situation. Some low-publicity slow-and-steady purchases have done well and the same in reverse (US companies in Japan). I expect the same with China.
It's quite embarrassing, really, because the frequency of this comparison is almost certainly due to American perception of ethnicity. You don't see India/80's Japan comparisons or Brazil/80's Japan comparisons as often.
Isn't it more likely that that's because neither India nor Brazil have economies anywhere near the size or importance of America's, and don't appear to be on any kind of trajectory that will get them there?
Japanese companies still buy up American companies just like American companies buy up Japanese. Indeed, the job search company was bought for a billion dollars by a Japanese company. Sony PlayStation, Nintendo and the car companies are doing better than ever. It's just it's no longer in people's eyes or really news anymore.
It's also why Starbucks, KFC and Apple have been aggressively growing in China cos there is such a great market in China and East Asia in general.
I suspect that the political situation for Xi Jinping and the CCP is actually a lot more tenuous than is publicized outside of China, and that they're investing so heavily in surveillance & control technologies because they're insecure. It wouldn't surprise me if we see a democratic revolution in China within a decade.
IMO good governance goes beyond ideology. If you need a democracy because your political and economic situation dictates it will be best, then do that.
I think any revolution is fairly unlikely while China continues to grow rapidly under the CCP, but if growth stutters or corruption becomes overwhelming (or if America collapses and stops buying Chinese goods), it could happen. The catalyst for most revolutions seems to be when people give up on trying to expand the pie and start stealing slices from less powerful countrymen, causing widespread resentment.
I'm just thinking back to other revolutions that have occurred, though, and they usually take people outside the country by complete surprise. I was a kid in the 80s, and the Cold War was basically a fact of life. I had an international relations professor who was in the Pentagon when Gorbachev was deposed, they had just completed their 5-year geostrategic plan, and nowhere in the plan was the possibility that the USSR might not exist. Same with the Arab Spring - from the U.S, it was like "What the hell is happening?"
Interestingly, it was not clear at the time of the American Revolution that it would result in a liberal democracy. It seems that the expectation at the time is that it would result in total anarchy (the way the Syrian Civil War has), with the colonists killing each other, and it almost did, and it wasn't until almost 15 years after Lexington & Concord that it was clear (with the ratification of the U.S. Constitution) that it wouldn't. And maybe that's the mechanism by which a wealthy & well-networked middle class leads to democracy: in states without it, a revolution collapses into anarchy and the elevation of a charismatic dictator, while with it the various interests need to negotiate and share power because each of them needs something that only the others can provide.
California is not a “mostly single party state” other than in the sense that any state with a current legislative majority party is.
The California Republican Party, sure, has done a horrible job keeping voters over the last decade, following the national party on its rightward march faster than voters on the state were willing to support. But they aren't systematic excluded by government in the manner of a single-party state, and while they are a weak minority in state government, much government in the state is done at the local level, and Republicans still dominate local government in substantial swathes of the state. And, unlike in a single-party state, there are no structural barriers to the state Republican Party becoming more competitive if it chooses to actually try, rather than hewing to the orthodoxy of a national party far out of line with California voters.
It's the Democrats (I was one, until recently) who have been moving left. There has been some reaction from the Republicans, but the majority of the shift has been on the left towards the left.
But they aren't systematic excluded by government in the manner of a single-party state
Yet. I'd seen some nutty Craiglist ads, where people refused to live with anyone who didn't support Bernie, including other Democrats. (For the record, I think he wasn't treated fairly by his party.) Maybe it's the circles I'd been running in, but people here in the Bay Area are quite something. I'd never felt more comfortable in groups of only Asians until I moved here. This sort of toxic denigration and talking over me, like I'm a foolish creature from a Dr. Doolitle movie -- I'd only seen it from right-leaning bigots in Ohio or South Carolina. First time in my life, I've gotten it from the left.
Best that I can tell, there are a lot of people here who think it would be perfectly ok to mistreat wholesale groups of people who are more or less ordinary citizens, ordinary Republicans. There are a lot of people here who would enthusiastically denigrate innocent people, not because they necessarily disagree, but just because they'd ask certain questions. The saddest thing about it, is that such behavior comes from what I used to think was my own "tribe." I see too many attitudes that are not befitting for truth seekers, lovers of knowledge, and Liberal attitudes towards discourse and civic life.
It seems to extend down to ridiculously small polities, eg. there are people in the local Peace Corps alumni association (membership ~100) that call it an oppressive authoritarian regime, and I've worked at a startup with 18 employees that some of my coworkers called an oppressive authoritarian regime.
Sure. "Not too bad, but showing disturbing trends." Right now, we're at the stage where the police give certain people extra attention, and attitudes are brewing in the majority society.
I agree with your general point, but I should mention that the Bay Area political climate is pretty sympathetic to government employee unions, such as those that represent TSA workers.
I have a friend who lives up north in the Sierras (who actually won an award for her work in social justice) who can't go to certain bars in her town, because someone might knife her over political disagreements.
There is some unrest, oppression of the less powerful, and under-representation here in California. It's much better here than in many parts of the world, but it's there. Some of it is due to the lop-sided nature of politics here.
I'm pretty sure you can say that about most states. Either you have a blue state with a rural population that feels oppressed, or a red state with an urban population that feels oppressed, or pockets of people identifying with the less dominant party within both urban or rural areas.
It doesn't fit neatly into 21st century American domestic political discourse (with emphasis since 2000 on red states vs. blue states), but we're really more interspersed than we believe, at varying proportions.
I have a sense that California is singularly skewed in this way, however. I've seen a rural lawyer in California advise people to basically hide their cultural identity while driving.
The time to worry is when you have scapegoating of certain minorities expressed in law and government behavior. The time to worry, is then the authorities have decided it's now alright to trample on the rights of a subset of its own citizens, regardless of their innocence.
Genuinely curious what one would do to hide or advertise their cultural identity while driving? Bumper stickers and flags?
Those were two of the things that were mentioned.
Thats not true. One party has been dominant over the past 40+ years because it won most of the elections, which are free and fair elections according to international standards.
Plenty of opposition parties have been active the entire time, they just weren't popular enough to win. They are not suppressed or restricted or thrown in jail -- they just aren't able to convince the voters.
There have been periods, including quite recently, when opposition parties held power. Their performance while in power caused the voters to vote for the dominant party next time.
China has the numbers and control in a way Japan never did.
Their growth has been slower and in that time, the West, China's market, has all but ceased manufacturing.
China owns (almost quite literally) poorer countries in Africa. They sponsor mining infrastructure, they buy mines and they have a local workforce that will turn up for bread.
If China ever develops a substantial middle class (as the West and Japan did) they can shift their manufacturing to another country they have control. They still own all the natural resources, they just need people (or tech) to build it all.
They don't just own Africa, they underwrite huge national debts. They've started selling these to other cash-rich countries.
China is controlled. They want more agriculture, they say so. They want to avoid explosive growth, they implement a one child policy.
I'll sure something could trip them up, but they have exit routes for most major historical economic issues. And totalitarian control as gravy.
This is especially relevant for understanding China in the context of 21st century geopolitics. China has many of the same geographic advantages of Europe and North America. It's likely that China will want to extend its influence in its region, just as the US did when "The Monroe Doctrine" was formulated. On the other hand, China, when viewed on the longest historical time scales, seems somewhat metastable. My guess on the future: China will try to become a rival to the US for global dominance, and there will be naval conflict over who is in charge in the far east -- unless China follows another long term pattern, destabilizes and changes regimes. The former is far likelier than the latter.
I was reading recently about how the Shah of Iran was ended and how the US intentionally helped that happen while they were allies. I dug into that more.
Shah of Iran didn't have any imperial ambitions but the west didn't support him because of geopolitics reasons.
> The Shah of Iran had promoted secular rule and thus he believed that he would be embraced by the west. He also believed that his transformation of Iran from a near Middle Ages nation to a modern nation would be appreciated by the world at large. But, instead, he had gone too far too fast for Western interests.
Same story but a different reason how British and Roosevelt did influence on Mosaddegh's overthrow! While Mosaddegh was doing everything that we would praise by today's standards and our modern values:
When you read two stories you just realize how geopolitics reasons can be unfair sometimes.
Many countries are destabilized because of regimes changes for sake of geopolitics reasons. And it is really hard to say if there is any positive outcome for anyone in it.
EDIT: Well, to add a bit of detail everybody knew way back when that if CO2 ended up in the atmosphere it would cause global warming. But most scientists thought it be absorbed by the sea instead and atmospheric CO2 would barely rise. Turns out that secondary effects made the sea go and release the CO2 it absorbed so here we are. I think scientific consensus didn't swing against absorption until the data really started to come in showing it wasn't but the important thing is that many people predicted Global Warming in advance of the evidence and the only credible argument against it, before the data, was something we now clearly see isn't happening.
The first science fiction that I saw that deliberately bucked this trend was Earth by David Brin. There's a line something like "Can you believe that back in the late 20th century everybody thought Nihon was going to control the world's economy?"
I liked it.
Frontline: Coming From Japan [The Fall Of The US Television Industry] (1992) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aesJTsZqm6c
While trade is not zero-sum, it can be mutually beneficial. But payments for usage rights are not (whether IP, land, machinery, or even capital). Indeed, it is one of the core ways 19th century empires extracted wealth from colonies.
Didn't even mention Rising Sun: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rising_Sun_%28film%29?wprov=sf...
“Kaizen as a way of life” is the motto for a largely US centric fortune 200.