Post-American World & The 21st Century.


Things change.

Even if folks like Mitt Romney would like to promise another “American Century” – it’s just not going to happen… The world is not the same anymore. Nobody will “own” this century like US dominated the last one.

Zakaria lays it out:

In 1990, China represented 2% of global gross domestic product. It has quadrupled, to 8%, and it’s rising. By most estimates, China’s economy will become the world’s largest between 2016 and 2018. And this is not simply an economic story. China’s military capacity and reach are also expanding. Beijing’s defense spending is likely to surpass America’s by 2025.

It’s not just China that’s rising. Emerging powers on every continent have achieved political stability and economic growth and are becoming active on the global stage. Twenty years ago Turkey was a fragile democracy, dominated by its army, constantly in need of Western economic bailouts. Today, Turkey has a trillion-dollar economy that grew 6.6% last year. Since April 2009, Turkey has created 3.4 million jobs – that’s more than the entire European Union, Russia and South Africa put together.

Look in this hemisphere: In 1990, Brazil was emerging from decades of dictatorship and was wracked by inflation rates that reached 3,000 percent. Today, Brazil is a stable democracy, steadily growing with foreign-exchange reserves of $350 billion.

[..] Mitt, by and large you have ridiculed this approach to foreign policy, arguing that you would instead expand the military, act unilaterally and talk unapologetically. But chest-thumping triumphalism won’t help you secure America’s interests or ideals in a world populated by powerful new players. You can call this new century whatever you like, but it won’t change reality. After all, just because we call it the World Series doesn’t actually make it one.

Full story.


Europe’s main trading parter now China – not US.


EU-China BFF in trade.

Times are changing – and this summer China surpassed the US as Europe’s top trading partner.

From China Daily:

BEIJING — Trade between China and the European Union (EU) totaled 35.6 billion euros ($49.4 billion) in July, allowing China to overtake the United States as the EU’s largest trade partner, the Ministry of Commerce said, citing the latest statistics from Eurostat.

The overall value of China-EU trade in July exceeded that of the EU and the United States by 800 million euros, accounting for 13.4 percent of the region’s total imports and exports, according to data released by the EU’s statistics office.

Full story.

On China.. Kissinger.

Falls flat.

After reading some books by Henry Kissinger – a pattern has emerged.

First there’s an exhilarating introduction, with a vast ground covered and lots of brilliant analysis, and then…. just boring. “Diplomacy”, “Years of Renewal”, “White House Years”, it’s always the same. And with “On China” we finally realized why – he simply can’t tell a story. It’s just a dreadful account of facts for hundreds of pages, with no suspense, no arches and no emotional hooks.

So with that in mind, we’ll say that the major take-aways from this latest book were all in the first chapter, with a conceptual framework for understanding ancient chinese history and their self-perception as an eternal and supreme culture, and the intellectual differences between the games of western chess and the chinese favorite “go”. As a huge empire with heaps of enemies at its borders – their favorite game is an extensive and paranoid battle of putting out little stones on a board to encircle and defeat the stones of your opponent. The front vs. front and total defeat of chess is not that relevant in their old cultural and military experience.. Managing threats and achieving harmony more so.

So the introduction was great, but for a vivid and exciting introduction to chinese history as a story.. a bit disappointing.

The eternal China.

The Yellow Emperor.. restoring the eternal empire of China.

Just started a new book – “On China” by Henry Kissinger.

The opening is very interesting – explaining the general chinese concepts of history and origins of the culture and country. In short, it has just always been there. As writing was invented about five thousand years ago, and some version of China probably existed long before that, there  are no written records of the first creation and building – and thus a sense of eternity is manifested in both mentality and thinking.

A good example is the ancient legend of “The Yellow Emperor”, a person who didn’t build the great China up from the ground, but rather a hero who restored the great country after a collapse, and then re-build it back to its previous and glorious eternal empire.

All useful backdrops to understanding the current rise of China – and the context in which most of the chinese percieve these changes. It’s merely a return to normalcy and the natural order of things.

The Founding of a Republic. October 1949.

A rising sun in the east.

Watching the “The Founding of a Republic” from 2009 yesterday, there were some very interesting history lessons and new discoveries.

The movie roughly covered the time period between WWII and the founding of the Peoples Republic of China by Mao in October 1949, with Mao and Zhou Enlai as chief architects.

After Japan quickly surrendered after the bombs in 1945 – a civil war in China continued for some years between the Nationlist Party and the Communist Party. In the end the communists won, and Mao became the supreme leader of China from 1949-76, spanning almost three decades as Chairman of the Republic.

The movie was state sponsored and released at the 60th anniversary of China two years ago. Thus, it is an interesting study in nation-building and what kind of identity and perspective on history the country and the young might have today. General impressions as an outsider were a selective account – and mostly all positive about Mao and his party. Two small things though, they smoke all the time, and they do a couple of swipes at the US for not helping Mao in his efforts to win the war. Truman is too busy with Europe and other things. Also, China owes America money and keep talking about repayment and more credit. So for the younger generation of China today, it’s clearly portrayed as a negative indifference from America in desperate times and great need for help. Probably feeding nationalist pride and little sympathy for US decline and debt problems these days. Effective storytelling on many levels.

The movie ends with a “rising sun” and the founding of the Republic in October 1949, after a thorough discussion about flag design and national anthem and lyrics. Lots of smiles and pathos, huge armies, happy young people and big speeches and applause. A new era had begun.

All in all – an interesting watch and useful starting point for exploring recent chinese history.

China and 11th Congress.

From the opening of the Fourth Session of the 11th National People’s Congress in Beijing this weekend:

The Great Hall of the People, Beijing, March 5th 2011.

Highlights from the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015):

  • Population will be controlled below 1.39 billion;
  • Urbanization rate will reach 51.5 percent;
  • Value-added output of emerging strategic industries will account for 8 percent of GDP;
  • Foreign investment is welcomed in modern agriculture, high-tech and environment protection industries;
  • Coastal regions to turn from “world’s factory” to hubs of R &D, high-end manufacturing and service sector;
  • Nuclear power will be developed more efficiently under the precondition of ensuring safety;
  • Construction of large-scale hydropower plants will gain momentum in southwest China;
  • Length of high-speed railway will reach 45,000 km;
  • Length of highway network will reach 83,000 km;
  • A new airport will be built in Beijing;
  • China to build 36 million affordable apartments for low-income people.


Chinese flee Libya.

By boat, land and planes – 4.600 chinese have been evacuated from the turmoil and violence in Libya.

Safe home – from Gaddafi’s crackdowns in Libya.


BEIJING – As many as 4,600 Chinese nationals had been evacuated from riot-torn Libya by Thursday morning, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu.

Among them, more than 4,000 were transfered to the southern Greek island of Crete by two vessels, over 400 were evacuated to Egypt by land, and the rest were on their way home by a chartered plane, according to Ma.

The first chartered plane sent by the Chinese government left Libya at 1:40 pm Thursday of Beijing time, carrying more than 200 Chinese, Ma told a regular press briefing.