Saturday, July 04, 2020

Saturday Morning Musings - a note on China

In 2008 I visited China. The Global Financial Crisis broke while we were there. I recorded some initial impressions from my visit in a series of short post. I will list these at the end of this post. They say nothing profound, just providing a snapshot of views at a point in time.

In many ways it was a golden trip, seeing a country that I had read about over many years but had not visited. I was very impressed.

Looking back now, I feel a sense of sadness. Two themes in Chinese history have been the shifting balance between centre and regions along with concerns about the preservation of social order. 

Naively, I had expected modern China to continue to evolve, balancing the desire of the Party to stay in power with the progressive development of institutions that might trammel, perhaps channel is a better word, Party power over time.

I had expected Chinese power to rise, but had expected that the exercise of that power would be more subtle, more centered within existing global institutions that, or so it seemed to me, benefited China. While I recognised that it was possible, I had not expected a return to the old imperial Chinese model with its inward focus and all its in-built assumptions about superiority. I also underestimated the degree of turmoil that would emerge in US foreign policy.  

Like many Australians, I am now struggling to work out what all this means. How should Australia respond? I'm not sure, but do feel that our approach needs to be more subtle, more nuanced, than it has been to this point.       

The China Visit Posts


Tikno said...

Philosophically, the balance of power is necessary so that no one can be "superman", because the feeling of superiority has the potential to prioritize his own interests. That is also the philosophy of "Trias Politica" in the state system.
After the Soviet era, I only wish that the world would have a new balance whether it was played by Russia or China, or other countries.
I also did not expect China to become a single superpower, as well as to the USA.

Jim Belshaw said...

I agree with that comment, Tikno, although balance of powers are themselves unstable!

Winton Bates said...

Jim, this is off topic, but the Eden Monaro result has to mean “By Bye Barra”, doesn’t it?