This Week’s Mtg: China As #2

Fred’s idea.  He’ll come and give a brief opening presentation, schedule permitting.  U.S. public opinion about China famously veers from extreme to extreme.  Now we’re in a China-as-rising-menace stage, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to it.  Fred will lead, but my big goal on Thursday is for us to examine some common beliefs about China’s rising power to see how much water they hold.  Some of the clichés one hears are:

ECONOMICALLY: 

  • China is an unstoppable economic juggernaut that will soon eclipse the USA in power and influence.  They “own us” through the debt they hold and are cleaning our clock competitively.  China is #2 already and will be #1 in a decade or two.
  • Or, China poses no threat at all.  Some think it’s just the latest American bogeyman since we always need an enemy.  Others say that China’s rise is disruptive as they feel their oats, but eventually either (1) China’s rise will grind to a halt due to internal problems, or (2) democracy will flourish there and mellow China out. 

MILITARILY:

  • China is arming like mad and intends to challenge our supremacy, at least in Asia.  The bigger they get, the more they challenge us because rising powers do that (Germany, Japan).
  • Or, China just wants to be a regional power and protect its access to natural resources and markets.  America’s military is so vast no one will challenge it anytime soon.  Chill out.

Anyway, we’ll see what Fred has to say.  Here are a few discussion questions and some links.  Link warning:  China’s rise has many angles, and these articles just give a little broad-brush background on some of the big ones.

Discussion Questions —

  1. Is China really #2?  What does that mean?
  2. Does this make China a threat to us?  In what ways?
    • Is China a threat to us or our allies militarily?
    • Is China a threat to us economically (e.g., outsourcing and lower wages, its holding so much U.S. debt, climate change)?  Or, is that exaggerated?
  3. Will China mellow for the reasons mentioned above?  Will it become a peaceful stakeholder in the global rules, or will it keep challenging the status quo in an aggressive way?
  4. What can the U.S. do to manage China’s rise in everyone’s interest?

LINKS: 

Hope to see you all there.  At the opening of the meeting, I’ll select two people for topic-committee duty this weekend and give a final call for topic ideas BY COB FRIDAY.

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