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John Wayne's Holster: China’s Future Path Is Hopefully Not to the West
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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

China’s Future Path Is Hopefully Not to the West

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I got together with some friends last night to watch the closing ceremonies of the Olympics. Despite the horrendous presentation offered by NBC – not to mention all the commercials – the ceremonies were quite impressive. China laid out its vision for the future.

Taken together with the Opening Ceremonies, China has successfully used the Olympic stage to announce to the world that it is an emerging world superpower with a solid foundation. It remains to be seen what direction China will go. Will they be like Japan (1964 summer games, 1972 winter games), and emerge as an economic superpower committed to democracy? Will the follow the lead of Germany (1936 summer games), and become a closed, oppressive, and nationalistic government? Or will they forge their own unique path? Time will tell…

If recent trends in China continue, I think China will emerge as a more open government. Certainly, China in the second half of the 20th century was controlled by a brutal and oppressive communist regime. But with the death of Mao in 1976, followed by the dying out of the old guard, a slow but steady transition in Chinese politics has been on-going for the last 30 years. During that time, China has transitioned from a highly centralized government-controlled economy to a thriving market-driven economy.

Certainly China still has its problems – some of which are quite serious. The Chinese people do not enjoy the same freedoms that many in the west take for granted. There are still restrictions on the press, free speech and religious practice. There are also a variety of human rights issues in regard to Tibet, treatment of religious and political prisoners, and policies toward Darfur. But some of these things are changing, albeit slowly.

Many in the west expect the changes to happen overnight, but that is not being realistic. One can’t take a country from the failed policies of communism and Mao’s cultural revolution, and expect it to adapt to free markets and an open government overnight. Russia tried it, and it was an utter failure. It doesn’t appear to be working very well in Iraq either, despite the US’s best efforts to impose it upon her. Taking note of these lessons, China must proceed cautiously – and it seems they are doing just that.

One must also keep in mind that China may not want to have an economic and political system modeled after the west. President Hu Jintao himself suggested that China will persue a different path, as he laid out the blueprint for China’s development. Speaking at the BOAO Forum for Asia, President Hu stated, “There is no ready or unchanging path and model of development that suits all countries in the world. We must explore and improve our development path and model in keeping with China's national conditions.

While China admires the economic growth and prosperity we enjoy here in the west, she loathes our social liberalism and its attendant moral bankruptcy. As such, China will take the necessary steps to prevent these problems from becoming her problems. The closing ceremonies at the Olympics illustrated this point quite nicely. The ceremonies not only laid out China’s vision of the future, but they served as a warning to China of what she could become if she is not careful. This warning was inadvertently issued by London, the host of the 2012 summer games.

What does London (and by extension, the west) have to offer? Following China’s display of its rich cultural heritage and its ambitious roadmap for the future, London put itself on display for the world to see. First, they sent-up London mayor Boris Johnson, who staggered to the podium, with his coat unbuttoned, and his knuckles dragging on the ground, to receive the Olympic flag. Next, they rolled in a double-decker bus surrounded by androgynous pedestrians clamoring to climb on board. And what cultural icon should pop out the top of the bus? A likeness of William Shakespeare? Perhaps Issac Newton? How about Ernest Shackleton? Maybe even a Beefeater? No, these guys were apparently unavailable. The best that London could come up with was Jimmy Page – an ex-booze guzzlin’, -coke snortin’, -heroin shootin’ has-been rocker, whose favorite past-times are satan worshiping and stuffing mudshark and red snapper into women’s...(yes there)...(and also there). What does Mr. Page have to offer? Just a Whole Lotta Love - a misogynistic ode that is euphamistically about his penis. Now that’s culture! That’s class!

Jimmy Page

With this warning in mind, and thousands of other examples like it, China will not model itself after the west. I think it is more likely that China’s will develop a system more akin to that of Singapore, with a mix of economic freedom and social control.

At least I hope so!


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