You know; the idea that if there was a nuclear reactor breach in the US the leaked material would penetrate the Earth’s crust and bore a hole through to China. Apparently (thanks Wikipedia) this is impossible as once the material reached the water table the local populace will get the mother of all steam baths – not that they would enjoy it for long – and the Chinese will be saved.
A number of commentators DO believe in the economic inverse of this scenario and that the trade imbalance (as they see it) between the USA and China represents its first manifestation. The cycle is simple, American companies and consumers buy massive quantities of Chinese labor and goods, they pay in dollars which flow back to the Chinese central bank that then uses the money to buy US Treasury Bills and thus a growing slice of USA Inc.
This is only a problem if you believe that firstly the USA and ‘the Western alliance’ have a perpetual right to control the global economy and secondly that the financial and social institutions that operate it. If, on the other hand, you believe that it’s really OK for influence to be a prize for economic contribution then you would seek to find your reassurance elsewhere. It’s worth noting by the way that American consumers benefit hugely from the low prices WalMart can charge as a result of Chinese manufacture.
It’s been said that no war ever started between two states that both had a McDonald’s. The clear implication of this notion is that Western cultural goals of a strong middle class with access to the goods and services that comprise ‘quality of life’ reduce the desire for conflict.
In turn this suggests that the economic well being of populations is more important to accord than the political systems which create that well being; which would seem to account for the relative progress of the world’s number one single party state and the world’s numerically largest democracy.
It is in all our interests for the massive populations of China and India to aspire to the things that make life good in the west as it will lead to a convergence of common sensibility and values if not a belief in the same God. Ultimately it will create massive markets for Western goods and ideas and thereby create an economic equilibrium that we can enjoy along with the peace dividend it pays.
To this end it might be smart for those who controlled the world in 1945 to look at the permanent membership of the UN Security Council, membership of the G8 and the voting rights in the World Bank. Only the failure to reward progress with reprsentation will be a cause of real friction and we cannot decide which system of government is a requirement for participation.