Ten Reasons Why China Matters to You
GOOD is a Los Angeles-based magazine geared towards people that "give a damn." Their latest issue is dedicated to China and features a series of articles on issues of import in and outside the Middle Kingdom. One of them lists ten reasons why China matters. Top ten lists make me cringe, especially when they choose to lead the story with a poorly chosen image. But they get things started a little differently than I expected:
Don't be scared of China--the country is perfectly positioned to be our most powerful ally (lack of democracy notwithstanding, of course). But if there is anything to worry about, it's not China's massive military; it's the economy, stupid.
What's this!? No mention of the--gasp!--Olympics? And--my goodness!--it's the country's economy that's a major concern?
Given GOOD's choice of a list format, I also expected little would be offered in way of explanation. I was again surprised: each reason links to more text, offering fairly concise backup. Let's take #10 as an example:
Why China Matters #10
Because Nixon went to China and your world was born.
Words By Thomas P.M. Barnett
When President Richard Nixon reopened diplomatic ties with Mao Zedong's communist China in 1972, he enabled the most profound global economic dynamic of the last half century: China's historic reemergence as a worldwide market force. Nothing shapes your world today more than China's rise, and nothing will shape our planet's future more--for good or ill--than China's ongoing trajectory.
After centuries of relative isolation, China's rapid reintegration into the global economy transformed globalization from its narrow Cold War-era base (the West) to its current "majority" status, whereby two-thirds of humanity now enjoys deep and growing connectivity with inter-national markets and the remaining third works toward it. China's decision to rejoin the world was globalization's tipping point, meaning--absent global war--there's no turning back now, only adaptation.
If Nixon opened the door, then Mao's successor Deng Xiaoping led the Chinese people through it. Unlike Mikhail Gorbachev, Deng chose wisely: By tackling economic freedom before political liberalization, Deng kept China stable during its tenuous first years of market reform. Although Deng is correctly labeled an autocrat (he ordered the bloody suppression of the Tiananmen Square democracy protests in 1989), he is also correctly identified as a modernizer who unleashed a generation's immense creativity.
A grand bargain was struck: Deng won military support for further market reforms so long as a lid was kept on political change, and the army was afforded enough of a budget to modernize. The Party would remain supreme, but state involvement in the economy would shrink and private business would be encouraged along with investment from, and trade with, the outside world.