IRVINE, CALIFORNIA – China’s government has been using unusually strong language of late to assert its sovereignty over disputed stretches of international waters near to its shores. This has led to a ratcheting up of tensions, in particular between China and the United States, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stressing that the Obama administration is now ready to step in and help ensure the fair adjudication of disputes relating to the South China Sea. Chinese spokesmen denounced this as a throwback to the days when America thought it could, and should, try to “contain” the People’s Republic.
Americans and Europeans blithely assume that China will become more like them as its economy develops and its population gets richer. This is a mirage, Jacques says
Thirty years ago, China had a tiny footprint on the global economy and little influence outside its borders, save for a few countries with which it had close political and military relationships. Today, the country is a remarkable economic power: the world’s manufacturing workshop, its foremost financier, a leading investor across the globe from Africa to Latin America, and, increasingly, a major source of research and development.
The Chinese government sits atop an astonishing level of foreign reserves — greater than $2 trillion. There is not a single business anywhere in the world that has not felt China’s impact, either as a low-cost supplier, or more threateningly, as a formidable competitor.