China on the Rise
There are no “declinists” in China. There may be many Chinese who see in the country’s course over the last ten years much to lament. There may be those who treasure the older Maoist views and who condemn the “consumerism” and “materialism” which are replacing collectivism—and which threaten their privileges. Certainly the octogenarians who run the country worry a good deal about developments which threaten their privileges—and their control. And there are many others who cannot wait for the same octogenarians to pass so that China can proceed to its next modernization—democracy. But in the things that have mattered most for the past century and a half—the survival of the country, its wealth, its power, its standing, its face—China’s fundamental relationship to the rest of the world may finally be turning, re-turning, as it were, to a condition more in keeping with the traditional Chinese view of the appropriate international pecking order.
Much of this has to do with the collapse of the Soviet empire. For all its unsettling implications, not least its discrediting of Communism as an intellectual and political doctrine, the dissolution of the Soviet Union resolved the Sino-Soviet rivalry in China’s favor. Where reports from Russia and the other successor republics of the old Soviet Union describe uncertainty, civic crisis, and economic near-chaos, China is into the post-Communist era with a vengeance, striking all who pay attention to it as busy and energetic and purposeful.
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