What Canada can learn from Australia

Canadians are missing the point in their debate over increased trade with China, according to one Canadian foreign policy expert.

“The debate that Canadians need to have, and the debate we’re really not having,” according to Kim Nossal, director of Queen’s University’s Centre for International and Defence Policy, is on where we will fit as relations between the U.S. and China change.

The proposed $15.1 billion US bid by state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) for Calgary-based Nexen and Enbridge’sbid to build a pipeline to carry Alberta oilsands crude to the west coasthas led to much discussion about the bilateral relationship.

But what we should be talking about, Nossal says, are “the implications for us, as a small country that has relations with both the United States and with the People’s Republic of China, as the relations between those two great powers begin to shift and change in the next decade or so.”

Nossal has a unique perspective, having being born in Australia and spent time in Beijing and Hong Kong beginning in the 1960s.

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China is unique among the world’s most populous nations in that it considers itself ethnically near-homogenous, Martin Jacques writes in an essay at the BBC News Magazine. “[M]ore than nine out of 10 Chinese people think of themselves as belonging to just one race, the Han,” he says. But it wasn’t always so. As Jacques explains, the history of ethnicity in China is far more complicated than this suggests, with lessons for both how that makes China unique and what it means for the country today.

The history of China, he suggests, is in some ways a story about ethnicity.

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A warning’s being issued by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence today. It says there’s a danger of economic espionage and cyber-sabotage from two top Chinese telecommunications companies that are trying to move into the U.S. market.

The bi-partisan report — some of which is classified — says Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corporation are too close to the Chinese government and could be used to spy on U.S. citizens, businesses and government.

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Thirty-six years after “Great Helmsman” Mao Zedong died of a heart attack, leaving his country briefly rudderless during a time of crisis and uncertainty, the Chinese ship of state is still sailing. But is it still seaworthy? Observers are energetically debating whether the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party, which has endured so much, can endure. After all, the government today bases its legitimacy on economic growth, which may well be slowing. We can’t predict the future, but we can examine the past, and Chinese history suggests that, even if the Communist Party does face a legitimacy crisis, it would not be out of character for it to survive this particular storm.

The China-watchers who insist the country faces a crippling legitimacy crisis include, perhaps most famously, Gordon G. Chang, author of The Coming Collapse of China, as well as political scientist Minxin Pei. As they see it, there are simply too many contradictions inherent in the Chinese model for it to survive.

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As Britain basks in the glow of its successful Olympics, the thought that comes to this China specialist’s mind is, what a difference four years makes. There is a striking contrast indeed, where China is concerned, between the largely positive international chatter about that country in mid-2008, as the Beijing Games concluded, and the largely negative buzz about it now.

The change in China’s fortunes has little to do with medal counts or world records. Still, a look back to the Beijing Games helps place then-and-now contrasts into sharp relief.

Plenty of criticisms were leveled at China’s leaders just before the 2008 Olympics over issues such as repression in Tibet, and the Games were hardly free of controversy either, thanks to complaints about everything from parts of the opening ceremonies being faked (for example, the fireworks that looked like footprints in the sky being doctored digital effects) to underage gymnasts competing on the Chinese team. And yet, overall, a lot of things went right for the Party four years ago. As a result, a good number of international observers came away from China’s first Olympics seeing the country much as its leaders desperately want it to be seen: as a country that is respectful of its past yet surging toward a prosperous future; that is no longer poor, chaotic, isolated, with leaders prone to ideological extremism, personality cult rule, and factional infighting.

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At the beginning of this year, Chinese premier Hu Jintao wrote an essay in which he pronounced: “The international culture of the West is strong while we are weak.”

Hu was referring to ‘soft power,’ a term coined by Harvard professor Joseph Nye to describe the value of attractiveness. US soft power sees the world gobble up Hollywood films and pop culture, generating a positive view of the country. Now China is engaged in a multi-billion dollar push to increase its own soft power.

Global events such as the Beijing Olympics and the Shanghai Expo have provided an opportunity for China to show to the world a new face, and big investments in the developing world have seen China’s image improve among the Africans and South Americans.

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The way of the West is going south, according to author Martin Jacques.

Author of When China Rules the World, Jacques predicts China will usurp the United States as the dominant world power in a matter of years.

Jacques shared his findings this past week at LSU as part of the E.J. Ourso College of Business Dean’s Seminar on Global Research, Education, and Practice.

“The impact of China on the world, the global footprint, is accelerating all the time,” Jacques said.

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With so many pressing problems right here at home, it was nevertheless a very good decision for the Baton Rouge Area Chamber to bring a leading writer on China to town.

The British journalist Martin Jacques wrote a significant book, “When China Rules the World: The Rise of the Middle Kingdom and the End of the Western World.” Obviously, from his subtitle, he is bullish on the prospects for even greater growth.

In remarks to BRAC’s shareholder meeting and at LSU, Jacques talked about the projections that China’s economic output could exceed America’s as early as 2018. That enormous economic impact also is coupled with a considerable gap between China’s “civilization-state” that conceives sovereignty in a different way than does the West, with its notions of discrete nation-states, Jacques said.

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A revolutionary party learned to survive by wrapping itself in ‘stability’

A word used retrospectively to justify a bloody crackdown has become a commonsense platitude used to explain today’s China, accepted alike by American businessmen and politicians and China’s educated young people. The concept of “maintaining stability” legitimizes and even defines the rule of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), including its vast propaganda machine and the apparatus of physical repression that it has become infamous for.

But the idea is a relatively recent invention. None other than Deng Xiaoping—the Party leader who emerged to lead China out of the chaos of the Cultural Revolution, opened up its economy, then ordered the Tiananmen Square massacre—came up with it.

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Over the last few years, a number of reports and books have appeared making the case that the United States is in decline. All of these studies and books contain elements of truth, although we need to keep in mind the distinction between absolute and relative decline and to remember that relative decline, if it is in fact occurring, may not be such a bad thing.

At first glance, it seems clear that the U.S. economy is declining in relative terms. China has had an annual growth rate averaging 9 percent or 10 percent for more than 30 years and India 6 percent to 7 percent since the early 1990s, while the U.S. has averaged about 2 percent annually over the past decade.

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