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[P]
Displacing America: A New Chinese Empire?

By cibby in Culture
Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 04:00:16 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

There is no doubt that America has created an empire, with its economic and cultural power greedily absorbed by countless other nations. However, history dictates that all empires will fall, like the Romans and Mongols before them. Who, then, will rise from the pushing and jostling to become the next center of the world? Will it be China?


I lived in China for over a year, and previous to that experience, I was under the same impression as most of my friends and colleagues. China's ability to provide cheap manufacturing, their low labour costs and their inexhaustible supply of people would propel them into the stratosphere of success. I moved to China expecting to be caught up in the whirlwind, expecting my pockets to swell with Renminbi, only to find that my conceptions were misplaced.

If you step back and look at the model of American growth, one could argue that it was based on three factors:

1) Economic power gained through innovation and technology
2) Cultural adoption among other countries, such as music, film and television.
3) Military superiority

In this article, I plan to demonstrate that the Chinese nation lacks formidable strength in these three areas.

1) Economic power -> innovation and technology
Yes, there are a lot of cheap consumer goods produced in China, including DVD players and computer chips. But what innovations come out of Chinese research?

Very little[1-2]. The Chinese government has expressed alarm over how little innovation is pioneered in the nation, directing more funding towards research. As much as 57% of foreign exports come from foreign invested factories[3], and international firms in China are unhappy with the quality of personnel from Chinese schools.

Will this change over time? The Economist printed that many foreign firms pay the extra money to have foreigners in senior levels, or, ideally, Chinese graduates who have studied abroad. The Confucius-leaning Chinese education system repressed free thought and independence, and children spend their waking hours memorizes passages or completing pages of unstimulating mathematics. Add this to the one-child policy, and you have millions of graduates who are unable to work in a team, and cannot think outside the box.

And yes, China's economy is growing faster than any other country, but much of that growth is in sectors like steel, coal and construction, crude industrialization that can spell disaster for the environment. For my part, I noticed that Chinese cities are filled with new, modern buildings, but many of them are completely empty. The Central government gives loans to nearly anyone that wants to build something, and these loans default easily, leaving the gleaming husks hollow and sad, but augmenting the GDP to shiny, methamphetamine levels.

2) Cultural adaptation
American culture has become pervasive throughout the global scene, with MTV and Hollywood having influence over teens and pre-teens in every country with reception.

Maybe that will change soon...

But China?

Admittedly, Chinese cinema is very, very good, with acclaimed films, such as 'Farewell, My Concubine' and 'In the Mood for Love'. Can Chinese culture become so popular that Mandarin will be the language of travelers, diplomats and businessmen?

I don't think so, but time could prove me wrong. The Chinese language, Mandarin, is spoken by 867.2 million people and is a character-based language, where each character has a certain pronunciation[5]. There are over 10 000 separate characters, but the average speaker has a vocabulary of only 3 000. The inherent structure of the language makes it unable to add foreign words to the vocabulary. For example, Canada is Mandarin is 'Jia-Na-Da', and Brad Pitt is, amusingly, 'Buh-La-Duh-Pit-Teuh'.

The English language has had considerable appeal due to, of course, prevalent American culture, but also because English is easily adaptable and accepts new words like a randy dog. In England, the British often salivate over 'vindaloo', and Montrealers fill their bellies with 'Shish Taouks'.

To learn Chinese as a second language, it takes considerable skill and time. Speaking is easy to pick up, after mastering tones and pronunciation. To read, on the other hand, takes diligence and years of memorization. Chinese children are over 6 years old before they can write or read simple sentences. I believe this is a major impediment to the Chinese language being adopted into the world.

3) Military?
The American military is big and powerful. The Chinese military is also big and powerful. The People's Liberation Army is 2.25 million strong, the largest, numerically, in the world[6].

The U.S. government has also acknowledged that the Chinese nation is modernizing its army, and will shortly have the capability to pursue miltary actions in Asia, and beyond[7]. China is currently seeking to dispute hostilities with neighboring countries, and is pursuing an agenda of peace.

However, autonomous states within the country will present some formidable challenges to peace and content. The western media is well aware of unstable situations in Taiwan, which threatens to separate, and Tibet, which demands freedom. Escalating situations in Xinjiang, home to the Uighur population, have created tensions between the Muslim Uighurs and the Han Chinese relocated to live in the desert province[8].

Chinese has even extended a hand to Russia, fighting its own war against Muslim Chechens, to work together to eliminate separatists. The government hushes up the increasing number of protests suppressed by the police, a situation that can quickly rocket out of control[9].

Perhaps these three factors are small characteristics of the American rise to glory, and the Chinese empire WILL form, under different circumstances. Certainly, the world has benefited from Eastern cuisine, and the temerity of Chinese ex-pats to open restaurants in every part of the world.



References:
[1] "Survival of the Fittest in China Netcom", BusinessWeek, Aug. 22, 2005.
[2] "China ambitious for more in aerospace", www.chinaview.cn, 2005-08-03.
[3] "Savvy India beats China: US' BW", www.financialexpress.com, 2005-08-16.
[4] "Foreign money pours in, but corporate governance lacking in China's banks", Gulf Times, Aug. 23, 2005.
[5] "Mandarin (linguistics)", www.wikipedia.org.
[6] "People's Liberation Army", www.wikipedia.org.
[7] "Annual Report to Congress: The Military Power of the People's Republic of China', Office of the Secretary of Defense, 2005.
[8] "China, Russia to hold joint miltary drills aimed at fighting terrorism", www.forbes.com, 2005-08-02.
[9] "Land of 74,000 Protests (But Little is Ever Fixed)", New York Times, Aug. 24, 2005.

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Display: Sort:
Displacing America: A New Chinese Empire? | 145 comments (123 topical, 22 editorial, 0 hidden)
dude, it's all about democracy (2.11 / 9) (#1)
by circletimessquare on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 10:44:12 PM EST

china will falter when the next social upheavel happens. and it will happen if the technocrats in beijing don't chart a course to democracy. the wise men in beijing are not omnipotent, they will make a mistake, and people will be angry

currently, they aren't making any mistakes, but they are human beings, not gods. they will overeact to something like falun gong, or lose control of budding chinese nationalism, or the economic growth will fizzle

the only form of government in this world that manufactures legitimacy is democracy, all others lose legitimacy over time. that is the root of democracy's superiority over all other forms of government, and much of the usa's source of strength. do not ever underestimate the stability that democracy fosters and therefore the environment for social and economic growth

china's leaders currently have a lot of legitimacy due to the social stability and economic growth their planned policies have grown (at the expense of completely abandoning their founding principles of communism, but hey). sun yat sen laid it all out before the age of the nationalists versus the communists:

  1. expel the foreigners and unify
  2. build a strong central government
  3. democratize
only step 3 remains

it will happen peacefully, or it will happen violently, but it will happen

By 1905, Sun began to develop a more coherent set of guiding principles. These became, in turn, the ideology of a broader-based revolutionary society that he founded at the same time. In this new ideology, which he termed the "Three Principles of the People," Sun sought to combine the fundamental aspects of nationalism, democracy and socialism. Over the years, Sun developed these ideas into a comprehensive plan for restoring economic and moral strength to his country, first by expelling the Manchus and then by curbing the foreign powers. He also hoped to free Chinese from graver forms of social exploitation by building a central government that would counter the rampant forces of capitalism in industry and of powerful landlords in the countryside. It was Sun's view that, in the early stages of China's regeneration, the country should be controlled by a rigorously structured central party, dedicated in loyalty to him personally as absolute leader. But through a carefully calibrated period of "tutelage," the Chinese people would be introduced to the principles and practices of representative government, until finally the tutelage would end and China could emerge as a strong, full-fledged democracy.

http://www.time.com/time/asia/asia/magazine/1999/990823/sun_yat_sen1.html

china the ideologically bankrupt communist authoritarian state is exactly as you describe it. but china the democratic state? forget about it, they will own the world, no question about it

if china ever goes democratic, the entire world will be owned by a handful of chinese banks within 50 years

bet on it

but if it doesn't go democratic, just as you say: paper tiger


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

Chinese Democracy - only from GNR? (none / 0) (#5)
by cibby on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 11:37:26 PM EST

Yeah, democracy in China could open their country to a new era of change. But I feel that the past 100 years in Chinese history has bred a race of people that are content to keep their mouths shut.

I'm not sure how democracy would take place in China, but I do feel that China is far, far, far from communism. In some regards, it resembles 1920's America, with heady expansion and little regulation.

[ Parent ]
more like (2.00 / 2) (#7)
by circletimessquare on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 11:44:35 PM EST

the gilded ages of the industrial era, with robber barons and child labor

the social inequities in contemporary china put that era in the us to shame

that's what decades of communist rhetoric gives you? yikes


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

who knows... (none / 0) (#42)
by ljazbec on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 07:33:51 AM EST

Maybe, just maybe, it will not be only from GnR but in both cases, the wait will be long...

[ Parent ]
I like (3.00 / 2) (#19)
by bankind on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 02:17:42 AM EST

the Sun Yat Sen reference, but I always think that any mention of SYS should include something about him wasting most of his time drawing potential railroad tracks on maps. Kind of an auspicious start for CCP leadership

Anyway, I just wanted to comment that I think there is way too much Francis Fukayama in your comment to be coming from someone with Philipino-philia. My own thinking is that in most of the developing Asian countries the expense to develop the more remote regions and the concentration of wealth by elites results a polity that is easily dominated by elites (as in a government agenda that ignores the problems of the more remote regions).

Better for the time being that anti-elite (if only in name) political organizations control the national resources, and who can really say what the political organization will be post modernization. I can imagine that it will be a form no one has ever even conceived (no one predicted the PAP in Singapore).

Although the subject is in another part of the world, you should read the chapter in Jared Diamond's Collapse comparing Haiti to the Dominican Republic for a really stark example. You'd like it.

"Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time -- but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics." -Krugman
[ Parent ]

fukuyama? (2.00 / 2) (#24)
by circletimessquare on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 03:11:07 AM EST

was he the chap who babbled incoherently about the end of history after the soviet union collapsed?

anyway, i'm just glad GMA seems to be surviving the whole "hello garci" bs

she wants to do the chacha bad, god bless her heart, and this soap opera is doing what filipino politics has always done to filipinos: shafted them by distracting them with histrionics

with the charter change and a move to a parliamentary system and more federalism, elections will be less about a popularity contest amongst manila elite and manila newscasters and manila actors and a genuine moving of power to the provinces, just as you allude to

let the visayas and mindanao take care of their own, no need to filter their needs through the distracted minds of illustrados in manila, just as you say

but of course, the rich useless drama queens are hanging on in their own way, doing what they have always done best: distract us from the real issues with grand political theatre

btw, indonesia could do with a nice parliamentary shot in the arm too, but probably won't get it, what with independence movements all the rage


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Yep (2.50 / 2) (#77)
by bankind on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 09:04:22 PM EST

was he the chap who babbled incoherently about the end of history after the soviet union collapsed?

Being that neocons are really just foriegn policy liberals taken to the farthest extreme, I find their position to be a nudge away for most hardcore democracy advocates. So yeah, the pentagon is the vanguard, strongest advocate of liberal democracy. Whata world.

"Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time -- but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics." -Krugman
[ Parent ]

I think (none / 1) (#46)
by Ward57 on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 09:58:52 AM EST

that china's military power will slowly reach the point of rendering it's cultural power irrelevant.

[ Parent ]
so, what are the indians waiting for? (none / 1) (#76)
by saturnight on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 08:02:46 PM EST

"if china ever goes democratic, the entire world will be owned by a handful of chinese banks within 50 years"

India is now the largest democracy in the world, with a population of more than 1 billion. Yet I don't see them ruling the world...

[ Parent ]

democracy+economic power nt (none / 0) (#122)
by circletimessquare on Sun Aug 28, 2005 at 12:48:49 AM EST



The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
I wonder how much longer China can hold together. (1.50 / 4) (#6)
by Pooping in Urinals on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 11:40:27 PM EST

China suffers much the same problem that Iraq suffers, that is, one of ethnic diversity and tribalism. It is an issue that has ripped it apart throughout its history, leading to a period of rebuilding before another emperor was once again able to unite the warring factions. I think they will have a whole lot of internal strife to deal with in the future before they even think of taking up military conflict with their neighbors -- the unnatural overpopulation of males, for example, is civil unrest in the making.

"...[T]he first midget amputee getting bukkaked by 20 japanese buddhist monks and I bet your gonna say 'well thats what the miscellaneous column is for.'" -- army of phred

overpopulation of males (2.00 / 3) (#8)
by The Diary Section on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 11:48:57 PM EST

they've been telling them for thirty years there are plenty of women in other countries...
I think thats how they square the circle so to speak.

You can train a n00b but he'll just end up being a trained n00b right?.
[ Parent ]

What... (2.66 / 9) (#13)
by BJH on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 12:14:30 AM EST

...crap.

1) Education
Exactly the same thing has been said of the Japanese education system.

2) Economy
Japan used to be in the same position of copying ideas and products from foreign countries. It seemed to work out OK.

3) Language
Let me quote here:
The inherent structure of the language makes it unable to add foreign words to the vocabulary. For example, Canada is Mandarin is 'Jia-Na-Da', and Brad Pitt is, amusingly, 'Buh-La-Duh-Pit-Teuh'.

The English language has had considerable appeal due to, of course, prevalent American culture, but also because English is easily adaptable and accepts new words like a randy dog. In England, the British often salivate over 'vindaloo', and Montrealers fill their bellies with 'Shish Taouks'.

What, exactly, makes you think the British pronounciation of "vindaloo" is any better than the Chinese pronunciation of "Brad Pitt"? The ability to adapt foreign words has little to do with how similar the translated term appears to the original words.
Quiz: Which of the following English words sound identical to the original foreign word?

  1. Germany
  2. France
  3. Japan
  4. China
Answer : NONE OF THEM, you git.
--
Roses are red, violets are blue.
I'm schizophrenic, and so am I.
-- Oscar Levant

Number 2 does. <nt> (2.50 / 4) (#16)
by The Diary Section on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 01:55:58 AM EST


We have not journeyed across the centuries, across the oceans, across the mountains, across the prairies, because we are made of sugar candy.
[ Parent ]

Sigh. (2.00 / 3) (#30)
by BJH on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 04:38:39 AM EST

Try saying "FRAAAAANCE" to a Frenchman and he'll laugh at you. The vowel sound is quite different.
--
Roses are red, violets are blue.
I'm schizophrenic, and so am I.
-- Oscar Levant

[ Parent ]
Why would I suddenly (none / 0) (#32)
by The Diary Section on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 04:43:59 AM EST

start talking like an American?

We have not journeyed across the centuries, across the oceans, across the mountains, across the prairies, because we are made of sugar candy.
[ Parent ]

Why would... (3.00 / 2) (#36)
by BJH on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 05:13:50 AM EST

...an American try speaking English like a Frenchman?
--
Roses are red, violets are blue.
I'm schizophrenic, and so am I.
-- Oscar Levant

[ Parent ]
Francia > France <nt> (none / 0) (#44)
by The Diary Section on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 08:07:28 AM EST


Spend 10 minutes in the company of an American and you end up feeling like a Keats or a Shelley: Thin, brilliant, suave, and desperate for industrial-scale quantities of opium.
[ Parent ]
francia = spanish --- France = french. (none / 0) (#51)
by thankyougustad on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 10:46:11 AM EST



No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
Steady now: Francia=Latin (none / 1) (#54)
by The Diary Section on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 11:54:57 AM EST

"Land of the Franks" in Latin; hence its passage into other Romance languages like Spanish and Italian and slightly more tortured arrival in French.

My point is that the use of the word France in English is not a bastardised usage of the "French word" France. Its quite likely it coevolved (given the history) in both languages, the French just pronounce it slightly differently.

The use of country names to make a point about loan words/etymology was a bit unfortunate I think.
As was straying into "original word" territory.
Spend 10 minutes in the company of an American and you end up feeling like a Keats or a Shelley: Thin, brilliant, suave, and desperate for industrial-scale quantities of opium.
[ Parent ]

Perhaps... (none / 0) (#58)
by BJH on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 01:04:01 PM EST

...you should re-read the article:

For example, Canada is Mandarin is 'Jia-Na-Da'
--
Roses are red, violets are blue.
I'm schizophrenic, and so am I.
-- Oscar Levant

[ Parent ]

Oh I see (none / 0) (#49)
by The Diary Section on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 10:35:34 AM EST

This just in: People other than Americans speak English. And unlike in Hollywood films, they actually have genuinely different accents ("screen" non-Americans usually sound American to everyone else, e.g., Daphne in Frasier = Yank whatever you are told).
Spend 10 minutes in the company of an American and you end up feeling like a Keats or a Shelley: Thin, brilliant, suave, and desperate for industrial-scale quantities of opium.
[ Parent ]
Number one's pretty close, too (none / 1) (#31)
by curien on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 04:41:44 AM EST

"Germania" was the Latin word refering to the region.

--
We are not the same. I'm an American, and you're a sick asshole.
[ Parent ]
Which sounds... (3.00 / 2) (#35)
by BJH on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 05:12:57 AM EST

...exactly like the German word for Germany, right?

Um... no. So what was your point?
--
Roses are red, violets are blue.
I'm schizophrenic, and so am I.
-- Oscar Levant

[ Parent ]

It answered your question (3.00 / 3) (#39)
by curien on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 06:47:42 AM EST

You didn't say anything about the local language... you asked about the "original word". I daresay the word "Germania" predates the word "Deutschland".

--
We are not the same. I'm an American, and you're a sick asshole.
[ Parent ]
That would be... (2.00 / 2) (#59)
by BJH on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 01:08:49 PM EST

..."Germania" with a hard 'g'.

Feeling silly now?
--
Roses are red, violets are blue.
I'm schizophrenic, and so am I.
-- Oscar Levant

[ Parent ]

Nope, not really (none / 0) (#61)
by curien on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 01:36:20 PM EST

Try backpedalling some more... maybe that will make me feel sillier.

--
We are not the same. I'm an American, and you're a sick asshole.
[ Parent ]
Whatever. (none / 0) (#130)
by BJH on Sun Aug 28, 2005 at 10:03:35 PM EST

Try replying with something that actually makes sense.
--
Roses are red, violets are blue.
I'm schizophrenic, and so am I.
-- Oscar Levant

[ Parent ]
But not to a latin speaker... (3.00 / 2) (#47)
by jandev on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 10:12:17 AM EST

'Germania' in latin would be pronounced with a G as in 'git', not the dzj-type G that english assigns to it.

The E is more like the E in 'let', not the 'flatter' sound in English.

Etc.


"ENGINEERS" IS NOT POSSESSIVE. IT'S A PLURAL. YOU DO NOT MOTHERFUCKING MARK A PLURAL WITH A COCKSUCKING APOSTROPHE. APOSTROPHES ARE FOR MARKING POSSESSIVES IN THIS CASE. IF YOU WEREN'T A TOTAL MORON, YOU WOULD BE SAYING SOMETHING LIKE "THE CIVIL ENGINEER'S SMALL PENIS". SEE THAT APOSTROPHE? IT'S A HAPPY APOSTROPHE. IT'S NOT BEING ABUSED BY SOME GODDAMN SHIT-FOR-BRAINS IDIOT WITH NO EDUCATION. - Nimey
[ Parent ]

time warp (2.85 / 7) (#14)
by bankind on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 12:58:43 AM EST

hello 1995, hello 1981...

This is such a flashback to the good ole bad Asia analysis of yore. When Japan was seen to dominate the world, or the first major round of China dominating manufacturing. I can't believe you would bother to write on China and not go into the UNOCAL bid. Or even more critical, the vast dependence in China on FDI. Or the WTO ripping the Chinese financial system in half next year.

You could have even done a good rerun by comparing the RMB going off the peg to the Plaza accord in the 80's.

I was hoping for a great glorious theory on China dominating the world, instead I get this limp, outdated, derivative piece that is below the standards of the average USA today reader.

Here is a quick test of your bei jing hua:
Ni shi sha bi.

"Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time -- but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics." -Krugman

do not underestimate the Yellow Peril (3.00 / 1) (#15)
by circletimessquare on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 01:55:40 AM EST

Flash Gordon may not necessarily defest Ming the Merciless

LOL

;-P

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

walking dog (3.00 / 3) (#21)
by bankind on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 02:30:02 AM EST

of the imperialists roaders, you big noses never carve the melon of the Chinese nation. We'll cast you and your side walking crab allies into the hell of the upside down sinner where you will be SKINNED ALIVE!!!

I once had a Chinese girl at the Canada Airlines tell me , "you not know listen. China have 1000 years of listening. You not have history of listening!!" And then of course she called me "a bastard lao wei," thinking I "not know listening" in middle nation tongue. I hopefully got her fired.

Boy oh boy, I sometimes really don't miss that country.

"Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time -- but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics." -Krugman
[ Parent ]

yeah chinese nationalism is going to be scary (1.80 / 5) (#23)
by circletimessquare on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 02:53:14 AM EST

i hope in their earnest effort to correct 60 year old atrocities committed by japan that the wisdom of not committing worse ones dawns on the rabid nationalism growing there

you don't reverse the shame of japanese imperial aggressions by responding with your own

seems obvious, but we both know it's not

i really don't know of any great power that emerged on the world scene that didn't engage in a little period of imperialistic muscle flexing and geographic expansion via bloodletting

my worry is that if and when china has upheavel, that what replaces the nice old men in beijing isn't some hypernationalistic putz

but in a nasty way it feels inevitable in my bones

because it's just very easy to vent social frustrations on a foreign straw man, no politician worth his salt is going to miss that opportunity to change the topic on any failure in policy of their own by rabidly attacking japan

so all i can think is: sorry japan, you're fucked if china ever gets a han imperialist warlord at the helm, and that feels inevitable to me at some point this century

i also feel sorry for the philippines: japan fights usa or china fights usa: presto! instant battlefield! ;-(

i wonder what role vietnam will pay, they kicked china's ass in a war only what, 25 years ago?

damn those vietnamese are bad asses: the french, then the americans, then the chinese, no fucking sweat

total bad asses


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

I agree (3.00 / 3) (#25)
by bankind on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 03:12:02 AM EST

on the badass front. We're having some big anniversaries of badassedness at the moment. I'd actually run that list: Han, Mongolians, Manchus, Chinese, French, Americans, Cambodians, Chinese. And Laos and Chams go in there somewhere.

The only for certain is that if we can make a prediction based on past performance about whichever side the Viets take will be the winner in the long run.

But I'd have to say the battle field will be in Korea. If the Dear One tests a bomb, China will be having their own photo-op of knocking down of statues before Bush can say "New-clee-are." And I doubt the American people will stand for such a "disrespect of national sovereignty."

"Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time -- but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics." -Krugman
[ Parent ]

yup, you're right (3.00 / 2) (#27)
by circletimessquare on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 03:23:03 AM EST

bigger land rush than oklahoma in 1889

poor koreans, will they ever be reunited? or will they forever more be a sphere of influence battleground?


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

North Korea wants unification NOW (3.00 / 2) (#73)
by cdguru on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 06:54:26 PM EST

Of course, they want it on their terms. Which would pretty much bankrupt the south.

If you think German reunification was hard on West Germany to absorb a population living in a 1950s welfare state, North Korea would be much, much worse. Even on the most favorable reunification terms, it would be tough because the population in the north has virtually nothing and no infrastructure. Compared to the south, it is more like the 1880 American West joining today's NYC.

Of course, if the idiot leader (today's or the next one) gets their way, a nuclear test in a populated area wouldn't suprise me. Solve a lot of starvation in about a millisecond.

On the other hand, why would the North want reunification on anybody's terms other than their own? If you were an absolute ruler of a people, would you give it up to become a nobody? I don't think any but the most selfless would - and we all know how selfless Kim Jong Il is. Absolute rulers don't have a strong history of being very selfless.

[ Parent ]

My take on NYC (none / 1) (#89)
by khallow on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 02:44:03 AM EST

Compared to the south, it is more like the 1880 American West joining today's NYC.

I think if they fire the public unions in NYC then they probably could do it. After all, Manhattan isn't too messed up, so the American West could probably absorb that part handily.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

LOL (none / 1) (#40)
by soares on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 07:01:08 AM EST

"you don't reverse the shame of japanese imperial aggressions by responding with your own" No, you don't, but you feel much better. That's why we send thieves to jail.

[ Parent ]
uh huh (none / 0) (#70)
by circletimessquare on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 03:33:31 PM EST

what the fuck does that have to do with anything?


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Technically (none / 0) (#62)
by kero on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 01:55:15 PM EST

We won pretty much every battle in that war. The Democrats wouldn't let us support the South after we pulled out and we had to start pushing Slicks off of carriers. We did manage to tie up a huge amount of the USSR's manufacturing capacity while they supported the North though so while in the little picture we lost the war, in the big picture it was another step in winning the Cold War.

Militarily though, the North wasn't very good at big battles and had a couple of 80-90% loss ones that got spun into "victories."

[ Parent ]
snore... (none / 0) (#69)
by circletimessquare on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 03:33:03 PM EST

we lost...

but we really won!

whatever delusions you need to keep you going friend, whatever


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Yes yes (none / 1) (#96)
by daani on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 07:58:20 AM EST

"We" won. And if it looks suspiciously like the other side won, then they still didn't win, because we were betrayed by our own. Because the only people who could possibly defeat America are other Americans. The same ones throwing the country to the dogs by trying to disallow assault weapons no less.

And here's another little historical pointer for you. The final economic resolution of the cold war - if such a thing ever really existed - was due to the unsustainable methods of economic organization used by the USSR and her allies. It really had nothing to do with policy decisions taken by the various US governments after the second world war. Their only contribution was to not cause a nuclear holocaust (no mean feat, some would argue). Ronald Reagan, for example, had absolutely fuck all influence of any of it.

[ Parent ]

containment? (none / 1) (#123)
by circletimessquare on Sun Aug 28, 2005 at 12:54:18 AM EST

yes the ussr was intrinsicly flawed: communism sucks, it was doomed to fail

but if it wasn't contained, because of western efforts, it's death throes would have involved the suffering of a lot more people and a lot more countries

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

On the contrary (2.60 / 10) (#22)
by Mason on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 02:49:32 AM EST

  1.  Doesn't matter.  Nations tend to flourish scientifically and intellectually when they rise as economic powers.  You think America's proliferation of universities would've been possible without our industrial boom?  One could also link America's academic decline to our post-industrial languish.
  2.  Doesn't matter.  Japanese isn't much simpler for foreigners, but that didn't stop corporate America from acquiring a sudden interest in the language and culture in the 80s.  The business world speaks what it needs to speak in order to survive.
  3.  Doesn't matter.  The only effects of a military nowadays are to bully non-nuclear, resource-rich nations.  And America's military contributes to our empire by being spread into a ridiculous number of nations across the globe.  Hard to see China managing anything comparable, we've been deploying pawns for decades.  I say that without pride.
China isn't the new America, that's obvious.  But it sure isn't the old China, either.

Last line is brilliant (none / 1) (#72)
by ghjm on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 05:35:48 PM EST

It conveys a very strong sense of incisiveness and wisdom, without actually saying anything at all.

[ Parent ]
yes to question 1. (none / 0) (#90)
by khallow on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 02:47:18 AM EST

You think America's proliferation of universities would've been possible without our industrial boom? One could also link America's academic decline to our post-industrial languish.

Given that the proliferation of universities predates the industrial boom, I'd say yes. And I consider the academic decline to be in part due to the absence of risk taking in academia.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Empire -> Culture, not Culture -> Empire (3.00 / 12) (#29)
by Viliam Bur on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 03:43:53 AM EST

There is nothing interesting about the so-called American culture. People were once interested in America as a land, and thus everything related to America became interesting for them. If some other country would have the same culture, no one would care about it.

Similarly, if China becomes the most successful country, suddenly everyone will want to look more Chinese (more successful), and people will start enjoying Chinese culture. A hundred years later some people will believe that it was the cultural superiority of China causing it becoming an empire.

Innovation and technology: If China will become the world's greatest empire, most of money will be in China, and many smart people will be happy to come to China and take some of the money in exchange for their "intellectual properties". Just like in USA, many smart people were not born there, or at least their parents were not.

god bless you (2.00 / 3) (#34)
by circletimessquare on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 04:48:17 AM EST

you understand what historical myopia is


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Chinese innovation and education (2.80 / 5) (#33)
by Scrymarch on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 04:44:54 AM EST

As other commenters have said, a Confucian-inspired education system was little hindrance to Japan becoming a great power, but in the case of China there's another factor overlooked with bizarre frequency.  Mao's China spent nearly a decade in the seventies savaging and killing those its intellectual class in the tragedy referred to as the Cultural Revolution.  Schools and universities were closed for a number of years, and even when they reopened parroting the right phrases from the Little Red Book was more important that.  Outcomes from top-end research, which depend on an industrial and academic establishment, were always going to take time to recover.

Even if you believe a Confucian education translates to less innovation and hence productivity, it is not necessary for Chinese economic productivity to equal the rich world for them to be the dominant world economy.  Because of population the average Chinese worker could be half as productive as an American worker and still a part of an economy twice the size.

Anecdotal Addendum on East Asian innovation (none / 0) (#41)
by Scrymarch on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 07:09:47 AM EST

DIY endoscope made by a Vietnamese doctor.

[ Parent ]
agreed (none / 0) (#82)
by cibby on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 12:09:57 AM EST

Yes, I overlooked the point which you made. The education system in China is still reeling from the brutal slaughter of intellectuals during the Cultural Revolution.

Perhaps you are correct in asserting that the Confucian-style system is not a hindrance, but I feel that this system benefits when there is a wealth of knowledge at the top, trickling down.

[ Parent ]
Waste (3.00 / 2) (#91)
by Scrymarch on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 02:50:53 AM EST

Well, I feel that those who focus on the amount of inefficient rote cruft in East Asian education tend to forget the amount of inefficient non-rote cruft in European and Anglospheric education.  Chinese students may not be learning much beyond discipline when they memorise Tang Dynasty poetry by heart, but American Australian school students are learning nothing much beyond the nature of the schoolyard pack when they play sport in Physical Education.  Think of all the students at the back of your class not following what was going on.  

[ Parent ]
... in China and at home --nt-- (none / 0) (#92)
by Scrymarch on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 02:52:38 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Really? (none / 1) (#109)
by cibby on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 10:42:26 PM EST

You don't think Physical Education is crucial in childhood education? I feel that without those gym classes, I would have never been exposed to several sports and games that have been crucial to my sense of having fun.

In fact, in Chinese schools, I feel there isn't enough PE. I taught some high school students, and their gym class was essentially 40 students watching the 10 best male basketball players have a game of 5-on-5. What is that?

Another student told me that in order to pass the 'fitness test' at the end of the year, she just got another girl to run for her.

I asked, 'Can't your teacher tell that it's not you?'

And she replied - I swear this is what she said - 'Oh, don't worry, the teacher can't tell. Chinese people all look the same'.

That's not really a point, but it made me laugh.

[ Parent ]
Really (none / 1) (#124)
by Scrymarch on Sun Aug 28, 2005 at 02:22:43 AM EST

I don't think Physical Education is crucial in childhood education.  I think childhood and adolescent fitness is crucial, but that's not the same thing.  The problem with PE is the same as music, particular students already play club sport or are talented, and they wallop everyone else.  This doesn't help them train and it doesn't help other students learn.  Almost all my sports learning happened at the park or the cricket club.

That basketball match is even more useless than my average highschool PE class, but it's a fine thing.  The last thing Chinese students need is more time at school ... enough of them microsleep and stand up to stay awake as it is.  And morning reading - did your school have that?  An entire class sitting and reading aloud to themselves?  What on earth is that about?

That anecdote is hilarious.

[ Parent ]

perhaps... (none / 0) (#129)
by cibby on Sun Aug 28, 2005 at 06:52:34 PM EST

It's hard to say, since I already went through an educational system with PE, so naturally, I feel that it was crucial.

But it is an interesting idea, and I think a good topic for an article. Why don't you write one?

[ Parent ]
I might (none / 0) (#131)
by Scrymarch on Mon Aug 29, 2005 at 05:27:48 AM EST

You see, I'm kind of riffing off the educational anarchism - of John Taylor-Gatto's The Underground History of American Education.  It was well reviewed by localroger, which is where I first saw it.

I have plenty of problems with the detail of Gatto's book, like its chokingly flavoursome US parochialism, or its faith in the power of small cabals, but it's also an invigorating read and a wonderful attack on factory schooling and the societies that produce it.

[ Parent ]

japan, and asian culture in general (2.00 / 2) (#97)
by glasnost on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 10:01:18 AM EST

It is interesting you mention Japan as a success example, because Japan is a country that has been economically stagnant for 15 years.  

Japan's problem seems to be that their economy retains too much central command, in a back-handed kind of way.  Corporations are not allowed to fail, in essence being seen as welfare work programs for the people, and thus becoming extensions of the government itself.  And to get anything major done, the government must be on-board, which subjects decision making to political forces.

Frankly, I'm surprised they enjoyed such a long run of growth and success.  I think while this goes to show you can /design/ a rise from being an undeveloped to being a developed country, you cannot /design/ an above-peer performing free economy.  There's an oxymoron there.  If there is not an arms-length policy regarding them, corporate behemoths become so intertwined with government as to effectively become a part of it, which undermines most of the advantages of laissez faire capitalism.

China of course has obvious problems, discussed in the article.  I too have visited China, and found its "economic miracle" to be extremely superficial (overly-planned, "showy", often useless real estate developments, poor products, rampant corruption and government interference in core economic processes).  Also startling, the vestiges of the communist attitude ran deep in the culture: I was told I couldn't enlarge and colorize my conference poster (at my own expense) because it would make the poster "better than all the others" (!)

I think the problem is a deep cultural authoritarianism/paternalism of most of Asia.  It is socially "safer" to defer to your authorities (be they familial or governmental) than to risk innovation.  Over time, this causes individuals and groups lose the ability to innovate. It effects China, Japan, Korea, and likely more.  It will be difficult to shake this attitude, though I'm sure it will gradually happen.

In sum, I think cultural factors run so deep that the article's thesis that we cannot project China's alleged "economic success" into a near-future global hegemony is correct.

[ Parent ]

Economic crises (none / 1) (#110)
by Scrymarch on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 11:05:06 PM EST

Japan's had a lousy 15 year run, but it has been overstated, in what I suspect is a reaction to the Rising Sun mania of the 80s.  Lots of nations go through economic slumps, followed by reform.  There may be neatly organised tents for homeless people in the parks of Tokyo, but it's no Great Depression or UK postwar slump.  Reform like eg Koizumi's post office privatisation is still required just to deal with the demographic slap down.  And still good; I'm a fan of market capitalism, but it mostly happens at the level of small business, not the industrial behemoths that get the headlines.

Korea meanwhile aggressively reformed after the Asian financial crisis, and reaped the benefits.  Not to mention they have a robust democracy which unlike Japan actually involves periodic changes of governing party.  Singapore still has a strong economy even with 2 opposition members in parliament; it's not clear to me that the sorts of Asian personal hierarchies of respect you refer to are any great barrier to riches.

China seems to be dealing with post-communist economics pretty well, and as well as many East European nations.  The main shopping strip in Shanghai reminded me of the equivalent in Budapest, in terms of layout and shape of rejuvenation.  You also get showy government sponsored projects, but they happen all over the place, see the Millenium Dome.  Taxation as a proportion of GDP is actually one third of the US.

Post-communist politics, beyond the basic criteria of stability, has obviously been a bit of a disappointment.

[ Parent ]

2 gay 2 handle n/t (1.09 / 11) (#37)
by My First K5 Account2 on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 05:18:20 AM EST



I agree (2.00 / 3) (#45)
by pHatidic on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 09:30:53 AM EST

Having just gotten back from china last week, it is clear that it will take a long time for China to become the next superpower if ever. A lot of the economic boom is extremely artificial and overstated. While under different circumstances China could become the next superpower, it seems unlikely that those circumstances will come about. I think the biggest problem is the shoddy legal structure. It's only safe to do business in China as long as they need you more than you need them. Not a good long term strategy for growth.

China in Latinoamerica (none / 0) (#126)
by svampa on Sun Aug 28, 2005 at 07:34:49 AM EST

China is making treats in Latinoamerica, (and USA is getting upset for that). Why? Because their treats are more balance with national interest that USA treats

An example:

USA has a mine corporation that exploits a gold mine in Argentina. The coporation can take out of the country 98% of profits.The mine uses mercury to extract gold, and it's poluting the rivers near the mine. A lot of people is geting sick around the mine. Besides USA embassy is pressing Argenina to stop any sue against the company.

The contract will expire soon. China offers to take out only 25% of profits and invest the remaning in Argentina. USA offers 75% but threats Argentina with IMF.

I think you've made the point with long term stategy, but it aplies to USA, not China.

The strategy with third world countries of USA has always been to exploit the resources of the country for free, or change to government if they don't sign. Not a good long term strategy. Now none Latinoamerican country trust on USA, the NAFTA is dead in South America.

In the long term, USA is paying a wrong strategy: Abuse if you can. The strategy of China is to make fair treaties, at least nowadays, nobody knows what China will do when it feels strong and self-sure like USA.



[ Parent ]
Worth discussing (none / 1) (#52)
by k31 on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 10:47:10 AM EST

China's predicted rise to power is something that is  worth discussing; especially in the context of power changes ongoing in thid day and age.

However, the assumption that America will fall is, I think, a bit over-simplified. Reguardless of the changes in the country overall, once there is still at least one city which is realitively safe and inhabited by world leaders; and by that I mean top businessmen, not politicians; then the country as a whole could be seen as a centre of power,even if things are bad for the majority.

And, currently, the problems facing the world will tend to affect countries other than america harder: for example, oil prices. Part of this reason is because of the floating nature of US currency; no other country could survive with such defecits/errors on a governmental level.

As a place to live as a middle-class or working-class citizen, perhaps less industrialised countries could benefit due to lower pollution, etc.

Your dollar is you only Word, the wrath of it your only fear. He who has an EAR to hear....

-1 Jews. n/t (1.05 / 17) (#55)
by tweetsybefore on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 12:08:03 PM EST



I'm racist and I hate niggers.
kitten you do realize that giving me a 0 (1.40 / 5) (#60)
by tweetsybefore on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 01:27:37 PM EST

encourages people to 3 my comment, just to spite you.

I'm racist and I hate niggers.
[ Parent ]
who are you? (none / 1) (#74)
by circletimessquare on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 06:55:29 PM EST

and why are you such a sycophant?


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
American Culture and English (2.50 / 4) (#57)
by shambles on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 12:27:09 PM EST

I think you've got the cause and effect the wrong way round. Initially US culture could became prevalent because of the large numbers and geographically wide distribution of English speakers created by colonization. Admittedly the drive has now switched around, everybody wants to speak the language of Imperial power.

Also, there was no particular reason for English to become the language of the US. Why was German not chosen? Could it be that English become the US language of choice because of its inherent flexibility and adaptability (particularly when compared to German)? Could US culture be so successfully partly because if its means of propagation?

I agree that at the moment that China does not have the means to become a global power. However, most empires where in decline before they were overtaken, the US itself came to be a global power by moving into the vacuum created by the exhaustion and destruction of the European powers in the WWII. The American hegemony is still strong; the top dog position is America's to lose, not China's to steal.

And as second point I haven't seen the problems you're found with the products of Chinese education system. The brightest mathematicians and physicists I've every worked with are Chinese. They have an amazingly good grasp of the basics. Of course, I met them all outside China and spoke to them in English, so there could have been some degree of selection involved.

People are more important than Truth - Edgar Malroy
english colonisation (2.66 / 3) (#85)
by nml on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 01:42:31 AM EST

there was no particular reason for English to become the language of the US

huh? How about: because the US is the descendant of English colonies? Colonial powers exported their language to their colonies, which is why most of South America speak spanish and portugese, parts of Africa speak french and the US/Australia/many other places speak english.

Why was German not chosen?

Large groups of people don't 'choose' languages. They speak either what they are taught, or what is imposed on them by current conditions.



[ Parent ]
American cultural supremacy... (2.66 / 3) (#66)
by daani on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 02:56:28 PM EST

...exists to a certain extent. But you guys have a tendency to assume anything vaguely modern or familiar to you is an American invention.

Also, are you seriously suggesting American geopolitical power is based on MTV?  

There is weight to that comment (2.66 / 3) (#67)
by K1DA on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 03:00:32 PM EST

Also, are you seriously suggesting American geopolitical power is based on MTV?

From a media-studies standpoint there is weight to the notion that MTV functions to bolster American geopolitical power. It's called cultural hegemony - often confused with Americanization. In essense - popular programs like MTV produce localized versions of american programming which are produced for popular culture consumption. This produces a watered down semi-americanized version of local cultures.


Everything in it's right place...
[ Parent ]
That explains everything (3.00 / 2) (#71)
by Cro Magnon on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 03:47:32 PM EST

I wondered why the rest of the world hated us so much. Now the answer is clear. It's MTV!
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
I just don't know. (none / 1) (#80)
by daani on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 12:02:23 AM EST

<p><i>This produces a watered down semi-americanized version of local cultures.</i>

"semi-americanized"? Are you guys semi-japanesed because you can buy sushi or because there are Asian style neon signs in some areas? Semi-Thai because you're all addicted to red bull now? Anglicised because you are taught shakespeare in schools (few people outside of North America study Mark Twain)?

Just because some wackos blame America for all modern trends doesn't make it as influential as that comment suggests. Some of the trends we call "American culture" are a lot more international than that.

[ Parent ]

yeah so? (none / 0) (#103)
by K1DA on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 01:40:56 PM EST

Is MTV International? I dont think so. MTV started in America - and all the localized versions of it have their profits flowing to... oh oh... lemme guess.. AMERICA.. Therefore they are localized version of American popular culture.


Everything in it's right place...
[ Parent ]
I just turned on Thai mtv (none / 0) (#111)
by daani on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 11:46:09 PM EST

It looks like modern Asian entertainment to me. I hear no English or Spanish being spoken and people are greeting each other with the 'wai' gesture - exactly like people on the street do.

The fact that programs designed to appeal to teenagers look similar the world around does not mean it is a "localized version of American popular culture".

The point about profits is foolish. By that logic the government of America is a localized version of the Chinese and Japanese governments.


[ Parent ]

hardly... (none / 0) (#112)
by K1DA on Fri Aug 26, 2005 at 11:12:05 AM EST

The point about profits is foolish. By that logic the government of America is a localized version of the Chinese and Japanese governments.

Foolish how? The money is being taken from Asia and being returned to the United States. Thats the point though - they look asian but the formats are the same as those in America, and are filled with american popular culture references. Have You ever actually seen MTV Asia?


Everything in it's right place...
[ Parent ]
It comes with the apartment (none / 0) (#115)
by daani on Fri Aug 26, 2005 at 02:17:02 PM EST

so yes, I've seen it. I dunno what mtv "asia" is, the version here is in Thai and English for about an hour a day. Yes, it talks about movies sometimes and the majority of movies are made in America. Sometimes you get American music, but it is certainly not dominant. There's a lot of UK music too, but the majority is home grown.

This is the culture of young Asian people. The fact that it resembles something you may of seen at home does not make it a watered down imitation of American culture. I guarantee you you will never hear any silly fucking "gangsta-rap" music here. There are Reggae bands around that couldn't be anything but Asian.

Did the big-brother fad make you all Dutch-wannabees? No, it took an idea that worked in both places and did it in the way that would best suit what the Americans were used to.

Americans own things all over the world. As Japanese and Chinese have interests all over America. Makes little difference culturally.

[ Parent ]

so thats why... (none / 0) (#116)
by K1DA on Fri Aug 26, 2005 at 02:33:10 PM EST

they all want to be american. MTV asia is the one they broadcast across south and south-east asia.. its all one network last time I checked.


Everything in it's right place...
[ Parent ]
and? (none / 0) (#88)
by khallow on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 02:35:50 AM EST

This produces a watered down semi-americanized version of local cultures.

So what does that do for the US? I don't get it.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

nothing? (none / 0) (#102)
by K1DA on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 01:39:35 PM EST

Did I ever say it didnt anything for the United States? it does something for MTV - or anyone else who profits from having a wider consumer base.


Everything in it's right place...
[ Parent ]
sorry (none / 0) (#104)
by khallow on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 01:50:16 PM EST

I just thought we were on the subject of how "American culture" was going to subjugate the rest of the world for the American empire.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

yeah. (none / 0) (#106)
by K1DA on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 02:44:00 PM EST

economically? yes.


Everything in it's right place...
[ Parent ]
Doomed... (2.50 / 4) (#75)
by cdguru on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 07:14:51 PM EST

China will not be able to be in a position to replace the US, at least not anytime soon. Yes, they are a cheap place where things get made, but the people doing this have little respect for the process - they want the result right now. The end result is what we have now - a country where the labor is cheap but there are staggering failures. And the economics is all about producing barely-functional junk for overseas trade.

Yes, the economy is growing, but it has no foundation. If the US decided to kill off WalMart and close the trade gap by ending importation of cheap goods from China, their entire system would collapse overnight. The US would be in for some changes as well, perhaps all for the better. But the US would survive and China would be questionable.

The Chinese education system was ransacked twice by purges, and many of the 40+ people know deep in their hearts that anyone who is an "intellectual" or "academic" is a traitor that should be eliminated. OK, maybe the younger people have no memory or understanding of this, but unfortunately there have been few that could train them for the future. How many Chinese are there in foreign universities?

Militarily, China could be a force to be contended with. However, the days of needing a 2.5 million man army are likely past, unless you are thinking of an occupying force for the US. What they do not have is a meaningful blue-water navy or aircraft carriers. This seriously limits their ability to project force. Sure, they may be able to suppress their population with lots of troops, but they have no ability whatsoever to achieve air superiority over somewhere not in their backyard. And, since WWII everything is about air superiority.

The one thing you could do with a 2.5 million man army - if they had a way to transport their troops - would be to invade and occupy the US. Should the US wise up (doubtful) and realize that without US trade China would collapse internally they could dictate terms to China about Taiwan, Tibet and anything else. Yes, the threat to cut trade would have to be real, which might make some newspeople howl about how much we would all suffer without cheap stuff. So it probably couldn't happen. But, if China perceived there to be a threat (if if it was hollow), that would be the one thing that might actually inspire them to control their own destiny. I have to believe that China's leaders would be willing to play that card if they thought there was a ghost of a chance of winning. Would the US nuke a China-occupied US city? No. Could the US conventional forces counter a large-scale invasion from China? No. The problem is, they would have to get here, and for now that would seem to be impossible.

Second Amendment (none / 1) (#83)
by PrezKennedy on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 12:23:26 AM EST

"Could the US conventional forces counter a large-scale invasion from China? No."

If you're talking hundreds of millions of Chinese, you might be right, but it would take a lot more than two million troops to occupy the United States, especially since they'll be getting picked off left and right by militias and reserves.

That and it would be safe to say that were something like that to happen, there wouldn't be anyone left in China to command the troops once they got here becasue they'd all be atomic dust.
---
PrezKennedy.org - Bored stuff...
[ Parent ]

You over estimate (none / 0) (#101)
by The Diary Section on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 11:51:56 AM EST

once they start lining women and children up in town squares and shooting ten for ever soldier who buys it they'll back down. Its OK, most other countries on the planet thought like that as well until they were invaded by evil mofos. How on earth else do you think any war of occupation has ever succeded in human history? The town square women&children formula.
Spend 10 minutes in the company of an American and you end up feeling like a Keats or a Shelley: Thin, brilliant, suave, and desperate for industrial-scale quantities of opium.
[ Parent ]
no pain no gain (3.00 / 2) (#87)
by khallow on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 02:33:36 AM EST

China will not be able to be in a position to replace the US, at least not anytime soon. Yes, they are a cheap place where things get made, but the people doing this have little respect for the process - they want the result right now. The end result is what we have now - a country where the labor is cheap but there are staggering failures. And the economics is all about producing barely-functional junk for overseas trade.

So what? I consider a society a staggering failure, if it doesn't have staggering failures. The US continually generates them.

Should the US wise up (doubtful) and realize that without US trade China would collapse internally they could dictate terms to China about Taiwan, Tibet and anything else.

Right. I realize we're all experts here, but I call your bluff on this one. I have yet to see why China is considered such a wilting flower. After all, they do have a huge industrial base and are rapidly improving their infrastructure.

Would the US nuke a China-occupied US city? No. Could the US conventional forces counter a large-scale invasion from China? No. The problem is, they would have to get here, and for now that would seem to be impossible.

I'd have to answer yes to both. But of course, why nuke a US city when you can nuke - to oblivion - the entire supply chain for that invading army?

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

...what?! (3.00 / 2) (#93)
by MOGua on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 03:00:19 AM EST

If the US decided to kill off WalMart and close the trade gap by ending importation of cheap goods from China, their entire system would collapse overnight.
first of all, why would the US want to kill off WalMart? (multi-billion dollar company means multi-billion dollar tax)secondly, the US AND the world need their cheap shit no matter where its from.
How many Chinese are there in foreign universities?
Chinese people have the highest rate of attending universities and colleges in the United States out of all foreign ethnicities (especially the Taiwanese)

[ Parent ]
How many Chinese are there in foreign universities (none / 0) (#98)
by chrestomanci on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 10:36:33 AM EST

How many Chinese are there in foreign universities?
I think that was the OP's point. There are loads of Chinese in foreign universities because the ones back in china are no good.

[ Parent ]
Look to the risk takers (2.50 / 4) (#78)
by rianjs on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 09:29:26 PM EST

Look to the countries that are taking risks and innovating and those will be the countries that forge ahead in the new millenium. The conservative nations trying to preserve what they have will fall by the wayside in terms of world power.*

*For historical examples, see Great Britain, Rome, the ancient Chinese empire, a many others, etc.


onthepharm.net
Too be fair to us Brits (none / 0) (#143)
by deaddrunk on Sun Sep 25, 2005 at 11:41:53 AM EST

We lost our empire because we had to fight two ruinous hot wars and a very expensive cold one.

[ Parent ]
I have to disagree (3.00 / 5) (#79)
by mrt on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 10:02:46 PM EST

one could argue that it was based on three factors:

1) Economic power gained through innovation and technology


I must take a contrary position. US economic power is not the result of innovation and technology. US economic power is the result of an industrialised culture (European), meeting an abundance of resources (land, minerals, oil). The four great economic booms of the US were
(1) Cotton.
(2) Food.
(3) Oil.
(4) Manufacturing (based on cheap energy and massive industrialisation during WWII).

And all it took was the genocide of 4 million unproductive inhabitants occupying our land. Of course, we tend to overlook that when we reminisce about how great America is due to all that innovation.

Those resource booms led to a population boom, which it turn created enourmous economies of scale. Yes, there was innovation, but most invention occurred (and still occurs) overseas. Bringing products (that were invented elsewhere) to market is where the Americans really excel.

2) Cultural adoption among other countries, such as music, film and television.
You would be surprised at how small that is.
3) Military superiority
Well yes. But large sophisticated military apparatus will be unable to deal with urban conflict, insurgency or revolutions.


As for China, I agree with you, but not for the reasons above. I think that China is to overpopulated for a command and control style government, and too interdependent for a democratic style government.
Add to this a lack of focus on energy effeciency, manufacturing effeciency, transport effeciency and you have a nation of 1 billion people creating a huge stinking, unmanageable mess.

-

I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous
good points (3.00 / 3) (#84)
by khallow on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 12:27:31 AM EST

IMHO, however, US success is due in large part to the flexibility of its culture. There's a chaotic nature to the society that overall has served it well. For example, there's a long history of economic boom-bust cycles in the US that predate the industrial revolution. Many were resource exploitation like gold, cotton, tobacco, beaver pelts. But the US was also heavily involved in trade pretty much from the begining including tea, slaves, rum and whiskey, and the many products and resources of the Americas.

I think resource exploitation is particularly notorious in the US with species like bison and the wolf hunted to near extinction and the passenger pigeon hunted to extinction. There are still areas in California that are near barren from gold dredging in the late 19th century (the operations generated large piles of gravel that isn't conducive to plant growth).

This flexibility isn't unique to the US. Europe has at times shown a similar flexibility (particularly in the 19th century and the years spent rebuilding from the Second World War). Japan has long shown such flexibility. Remember that Japan went from a backwards feudal society in 1853 to its current status as third largest GDP. I find the claimed lack of imagination and creativity (and similar rationalizations) of Japan to be erroneous.

Those resource booms led to a population boom, which it turn created enourmous economies of scale. Yes, there was innovation, but most invention occurred (and still occurs) overseas. Bringing products (that were invented elsewhere) to market is where the Americans really excel.

This isn't true. A modest perusal of historical literature will come up with examples like the Kentucky/Pennsylvania rifle, the cotton gin, the steamboat, gatling gun, the rimfire cartridge, revolver, airplane, movie camera and projector, electronic computer, hand calculator, armored self-propelled ship, submarine, etc. For example, I'd say most common classes of devices that use electricity in the home were invented in the US (eg, TV, electric refrigerator, lightbulb, electric oven, microwave ovens, telephone, etc).

Some areas like architecture and science, the US was notably a borrower until the 20th century. Perhaps this is your intent. For example, the US didn't invent the principle steam engine concepts of the early industrial revolution (like the sterling engine), but they invented many applications of this technology. Similarly, European science during the 18th and 19th centuries made the key breakthroughs in the study of electromagnetism (the only American contributor of note during this time was Benjamin Franklin) that lead to applications and the era of electricity.

However, this changed in the 20th century. The US finally started to make major contributions to the sciences (eg, the Michelson-Morley experiments which demonstrated that the Earth's velocity didn't change the speed of light perceptably (at least up to a significant precision). After the Second World War, has been a golden age for US invention and science.

As for China, I agree with you, but not for the reasons above. I think that China is to overpopulated for a command and control style government, and too interdependent for a democratic style government. Add to this a lack of focus on energy effeciency, manufacturing effeciency, transport effeciency and you have a nation of 1 billion people creating a huge stinking, unmanageable mess.

I have to disagree here. I think China's existence as a stable country indicates that it has found a relatively efficient solution to its problems. And I'd say that China has a good manufacturing efficiency in its private sector - which is the sector that counts and that this is considerably better than most other developing countries in the region like India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, etc.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Sorry for the delay ... (none / 1) (#119)
by mrt on Fri Aug 26, 2005 at 11:11:03 PM EST

Busy at work and k5 has been unavailable. I have some time now for a well considered response.

IMHO, however, US success is due in large part to the flexibility of its culture

Honestly, I see a paradox in the 'flexibility' of US culture. On the one hand, I have never seen a western culture where the pressure on immigrants to assimilate and change to become 'just like a local' is so strong. While in OZ and Europe, immigrants often keep their traditions and culture, in the US it seems to be washed out of them so that they quickly become 'Americans'. On the other hand, the Bill of Rights has created a feeling of infinite possibilities in US culture, and has led to creative expression that is just impossible under more repressive regimes and cultures. So, the US has a creative and opportunistic culture, but one that seems to grow more conservative and conformist every year.

Remember that Japan went from a backwards feudal society in 1853 to its current status as third largest GDP.

I wouldn't characterise Japan's society in 1853 as 'backwards', more like stagnant. The stratification of society instituted by Ieyasu Tokugawa (in 1603) led to a stability, and ongoing prosperity, that Japan had not had for nearly 300 years. Any society that goes from one in almost continous warfare, to one that is stable and prosperous (on the condition that everyone has their place, and they can't move from it), will stagnate. That's a simple fact that history teaches us.
Oh, and BTW, Japan is still a feudal society. It's just that it's a modern-technologically-advanced- democratic-to-all-appearances feudal society.

I find the claimed lack of imagination and creativity (and similar rationalizations) of Japan to be erroneous.

I personally don't. But I think that it says more about what success is built on than the Japanese character. Japan has about 5 or 6 eccentrics who have created most of the new inventions the country has produced. It also has an endless number of rote engineers that can take any technology produced elsewhere, and refine it to perfection.

Kentucky/Pennsylvania rifle, the cotton gin, the steamboat, gatling gun, the rimfire cartridge, revolver, airplane, movie camera and projector, electronic computer, hand calculator, armored self-propelled ship, submarine, etc. For example, I'd say most common classes of devices that use electricity in the home were invented in the US (eg, TV, electric refrigerator, lightbulb, electric oven, microwave ovens, telephone, etc).

There was a long debate on slashdot recently on who (of which country) had first dibs on which invention, the outcome of which I will quickly summarise.

Certainly US
============
Kentucky/Pennsylvania rifle, the cotton gin, the steamboat, gatling gun, the rimfire cartridge, revolver, lightbulb, telephone

Disputed
========
movie camera and projector, electronic computer, TV

The rest I didn't have the time to look up, however, there is a long list of 'US inventions' that were not developed in the US at all. However, this is a debate that has been well thrashed out in other forums, and is probably not the focus of the article, so I'll move on.

I have to disagree here. I think China's existence as a stable country indicates that it has found a relatively efficient solution to its problems.

Hmmm, from 1949 to 1989, that solution consisted of 're-educating' anyone talking about those problems. Before that you had 50 years of various degrees of civil war, before that 250 years of almost continous rebellion against a foreign occupier (the Qing dynasty). I think China's existence as a stable country is an indication of the incredible inertia of Chinese culture, rather than any brilliance on the part of the communists, who are struggling to ride a wild dragon as we speak.

And I'd say that China has a good manufacturing efficiency in its private sector -
Certainly, there are great number of factories in Fujian that were built by the Japanese that are very effecient. As for the rest of the country, manufacturing ineffeciency is in many ways masked by the ridiculously low cost of labour.

which is the sector that counts and that this is considerably better than most other developing countries in the region like India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, etc.

Yes, but with the exeception of perhaps India, none of those countries have 1.2 billion people connected via three major river systems, spread over 9.5 million square kilometres from artic cold to tropical heat to barren desert. The Chinese do have a huge advantage however, they don't have to answer to the idiotic 'voters', and so if they are carefull, can implement change much faster than a democratic government like India can.


-

I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous
[ Parent ]
Erm (none / 0) (#142)
by deaddrunk on Sun Sep 25, 2005 at 11:35:56 AM EST

If democracy is such a crap way to run a country why are the richest ones all democratic and the poorest autocratic? A benevolent dictatorship may look like a good idea on the surface but unfortunately people who seize power tend not to be all that rational.

[ Parent ]
I'll start to worry when... (none / 1) (#81)
by Arthur Vandelay on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 12:07:04 AM EST

they can get past being a bunch of nationalist, racist, xenophobes first.


That's not entirely accurate. (2.50 / 2) (#94)
by daani on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 07:24:22 AM EST

Some Americans are Ok.


[ Parent ]
But those ones... (none / 0) (#120)
by mrt on Fri Aug 26, 2005 at 11:15:11 PM EST

Tend to live in 'foreign' countries.
-

I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous
[ Parent ]
Are you speaking (none / 0) (#95)
by Viliam Bur on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 07:56:43 AM EST

about Americans, Chinese, or who...? Just curious.

[ Parent ]
It hardly matters. (none / 0) (#128)
by your_desired_username on Sun Aug 28, 2005 at 11:31:42 AM EST

Over here in America we are only a little bit less racist than the Chinese.

[ Parent ]
Uh, America or China? (n/t) (none / 0) (#121)
by der on Sun Aug 28, 2005 at 12:14:14 AM EST



[ Parent ]
my take on this (2.75 / 4) (#86)
by khallow on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 02:22:10 AM EST

There are a few things that need to be mentioned. First, the United States doesn't have a genuine empire. Even if you count Iraq and Afghanistan as "conquests", you'd only have at most fifty million people under US dominion (including the usual US teritories and Indian reservations). In other words, the US has an empire that is a quarter the size of the US. The rest of the supposed US empire is sovereign. Instead, the correct term is that the US has a hegemony (a rather loose one to be honest) and that the EU, Japan, China, Russia, India, etc have substantial power in this hegemony.

Second, the key to US power is it's economic power. It's military might is derived from this advantage (and from the fact that it uses new technologies competently). I believe innovation, trade, resources, and a good risk-taking environment have really over time made the US what it is today. But I don't believe that these forces are as strong now as they used to be. For example, risk taking (which I believe to be the most important of the above) is discouraged in government bureaucracies (which have grown tremendously over the last century) and in academia.

I think culture is overrated. It provides a way to increase trade for your products and hence increase economic power, but I really don't see empire-building working on the basis of culture alone.

Also, I tire of the fiction that Taiwan is somehow part of China. The current Chinese government has been in charge of all of China proper since around 1950 (earlier in other parts of China). That government has never operated in Taiwan. Taiwan is already "seperate". It is a sovereign country with its own laws, government, etc.

Stating the obvious since 1969.

It is a soverign country... (none / 1) (#114)
by vectro on Fri Aug 26, 2005 at 12:16:16 PM EST

... with its own laws, government, etc., which happens to call itself China and lay claim to the entire mainland, including Outer Mongolia. Mail within Taiwan is frequently addressed to "Taiwan Province".

Right now both governments agree that China is one country. They just disagree about where the capital is. But until that changes, it's perfectly reasonably to speak of Taiwan as being a province of China.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]

misunderstanding empire (none / 0) (#139)
by squirlhntr on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 11:02:43 AM EST

1. not all portions of the roman empire were empire proper. that is, the far majority of the "empire" were sovereign nations that happened to do what rome wanted. cause otherwise, there was always the threat of military conquest. in return, rome offered some military protection, and the grateful country offered generous trade rights which benefited rome. i think this is a pretty accurate description of the american empire, no?

2. economic strength is dependent on military strength, not the other way around. the primacy of the US dollar came _after_ WWII, even though america was the most economically powerful country by the late 1800s.

[ Parent ]

China Problems (none / 1) (#99)
by chroma on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 11:13:07 AM EST

China will only join the ranks of civilized countries when they figure out how to make toilets which allow the flushing of toilet paper. Even in the dwellings of the rich this is not yet possible.

It's a symptom of a larger problem, though. Many things there are still done in a half-assed way and not really thought through. For instance, I travelled on a brand new modern expressway, but to get on this highway, you have to drive over 1/2 mile on a poor dirt road from the main surface street.

There is another major barrier... (2.00 / 2) (#100)
by Momoru on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 11:48:49 AM EST

Well, besides the fact that the US must fall for China to "replace" it, the major hurtle in China becoming a US-like empire is their monitary policy. China much like the rest of the world backs it's currency almost entirely with US dollars. Because of the dollars recent weakness, they have started to diversify more into Euros, but they could not "replace" the US very easily as we keep their currency relevant. The fact that they still have to peg their currency to the dollar shows they are a long way from having their own strong economy. Shifting to a floating currency would probably help China in the short term. The main way I could see China surpassing the US is when our debt finally catches up to us.

debt? (none / 0) (#138)
by squirlhntr on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 09:12:05 AM EST

i agree, but what debt? our debts are dollar denominated. china's are backed by dollars. if the dollar falls to compensate for this mysterious debt, so too does china's currency. strapped for cash, china needs exports, and devalues their currency a bit more to keep competitive.

ah, the interlocking circle of floating currency. like magic tricks, but for adults.

[ Parent ]

This is the way the world ends (3.00 / 9) (#105)
by nailgun on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 02:15:26 PM EST

The most natural assumption about what lies ahead is that the future will be just like today, only more so, an assumption which usually turns out to be completely wrong.

One such assumption posits that a great power rivalry between the United States and China looms ahead. Such a conflict is in fact unlikely. A more plausible solution is outlined as follows.

2025: The USA is suffering through debt-triggered economic sluggishness, high oil prices, and a severe drought caused by global warming. Misery is widespread and many Mexicans are eaten by starving villagers. America finally decides to give up on being a global power and settles in for a future of genteel agrarian living. Gasoline-powered private cars are banned. To keep the populace docile, marijuana is legalized.

2027: China's rigid socialist economy is unable to adjust to the loss of the US consumer market. Strapped for cash to buy oil, the Chinese invade Russia. Unfortunately, their slanty eyes make aiming guns difficult, and the Chinese armies are quickly routed.

Canada, seeking a market for the huge suppiles of oil gained from tapping the Athabascan tar fields, and itching to finally try that whole Imperialism thing, offers to trade China oil for arms. In a historic summit, Chinese Communist Party leaders Dong Suk, Chow Poon, Tung Lo, and Wang Fun sign a treaty of alliance with Canadian Premier François Mackenzie.

2029: Thanks to a robust IT industry, India is now wealthy, educated, technologically advanced, and hungry for oil. In a bid to get access to cheap crude, India destroys Pakistan in a surprise nuclear attack, then threatens nearby oil-producing mideast states with the same if they do not hand over their petroleum.

The citizens of the oil-producing mideast nations pray to Allah for help. Allah is unable to comply due to nonexistence. The Arab countries summarily reject Islam and ally with India.

Meanwhile, the US is starting to get some serious munchies.

2030: The Sino-Canadian entente and the Indo-Arab alliance declare war on one another. Dwindling oil supplies restrict either side from assembling substantial ground forces, and thus World War IV consists mostly of one side launching fleets of attack zeppelins, and the other shooting them down, supplemented with the occasional sailing ship engagement.

2032: Everyone gets tired of fighting. Peace is declared throughout the world, marijuana is legalized everywhere, shit gets pretty irie. The planet begins to take on a funky herbal odor.

3013: A comet smashes into the Earth and wipes out all humans. All, that is, except the transhumanists, who have uploaded themselves into the underground computer network infrastructure. Nuclear-powered and with no moving parts, these computing units can run indefinitely. Fen is vindicated.

Year 6 in the Reign of Gruntok Swift-Digger: A member of the race of sentient wombats who now rule the earth accidentally deletes transhumanity while trying to hook up a digital camera. So sad.

Note: I do not personally endorse marijuana use of any kind except as a source of cheap laughs

Nice. Your end of the world history does not (none / 0) (#107)
by hummassa on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 07:52:00 PM EST

account for the whole Southern Hemisphere.

[ Parent ]
The southern hemisphere is (3.00 / 2) (#113)
by jabber on Fri Aug 26, 2005 at 12:01:04 PM EST

a liberal myth.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

And so am I, I suppose $ (none / 0) (#117)
by hummassa on Fri Aug 26, 2005 at 05:37:09 PM EST



[ Parent ]
You might be (none / 0) (#140)
by jabber on Mon Sep 12, 2005 at 12:05:16 PM EST

a clever perl script. There's no way for me to know for sure.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Oh right let me fill in the details (none / 1) (#118)
by nailgun on Fri Aug 26, 2005 at 05:48:01 PM EST

While the events in the GP post are unfolding:
  • Africa: Everyone dies of AIDS. Wildlife rejoices.
  • Central and South America: screwing around with ineffectual economic reforms, as per usual
  • Austrailia: Staying the fuck out of all this silliness, having been burned once with that whole Iraq mess.
  • New Zealand: Raising sheep, playing rugby.
  • Europe: Dithering indecisively, as per usual.
  • Southeast Asia: Making shoes
  • Indonesia: who gives a fuck?
  • The Philippines: overthrowing yet another incompetent cronyist government every other year.
The reason I didn't include this is I figured it would be glaringly obvious. It appears I misjudged.

[ Parent ]
You missed "vast natural resources"... (none / 0) (#108)
by claes on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 08:45:56 PM EST

in explaining america's dominance of the 19th and 20th century. Food, timber, iron, water, immigrants to do the work and space to put them in and rivers to move the stuff.

Might not change your thesis, because china wasn't a vast empty land in the 1700s.

Very interesting topic, personaly I think we all ought to be learning Mandarin. It can't but help in the long run either way.

-- claes

The balance sell/buy (none / 1) (#125)
by svampa on Sun Aug 28, 2005 at 06:56:54 AM EST

A empire is a bell curve, it gets bigger and more powerful and reaches a the max point, the peak, then starts decadence. They will be the greatest for a long time, but they ar falling. I think there is an important sign of the peak: The balance between what they sell and what the buy.

The growing emprire always produces enough to its own people, and an excendent to exchange with other countries.

When I say "produce", I mean national production, but also seized from other countries. When I say exchange I doesn't have to be fair exchange. When I say enough I don't mean of every product, but the sum is that balance is positive.

The overall is that the empire doesn't need nothng that can't seize or exchange. Or perhaps what is more important, the goverment thinks that such self-sufficiency is a good goal, and that it's worth to sacrifice to be independent and bigger.

USA is a big consumer, they have begun to need the others countries more that other countries need it. Specially China. And what is more important, China is ready to renounce to standard of living, USA isn't.

China can affort people hungry. USA can't affort people not buying a new PC made in Taiwan, not buying the new DVD of MTV, not spending money in the comercial center.

USA needs comerce to support its current status, China uses comerce to become geater. USA spends more than it earns, so it can't support such status for a long time.

Yes, I do see China as the new empire. If the oil peak doesn't send us to stone age.



You also forgot that... (none / 1) (#127)
by skyknight on Sun Aug 28, 2005 at 10:16:58 AM EST

America has a superb legal system. Yes, there is ample corruption in America, no doubt, but it is dwarfed by the corruption in China. If you think that American government and businesses lack sufficient transparency, try living in a fascist dictatorship.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
Italy and Germany has excellent legal systems... (none / 0) (#133)
by HereticMessiah on Mon Aug 29, 2005 at 10:08:05 AM EST

...but that didn't stop it happening to them. All it takes are the right conditions for the rot to take hold. It's like woodlice: they can be eating away at your foundations for years before you even realise what's been happening. And by the time you do, it's too late.

--
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Think my post's poor or trolling? Rate me down.
[ Parent ]
What crap. (none / 0) (#132)
by HereticMessiah on Mon Aug 29, 2005 at 10:02:56 AM EST

Before you go making pronouncements on the abilities or otherwise of certain languages to express alien concepts and adopt new vocabulary, you really ought to study linguistics for a while. But putting aside your "Jia-Na-Da" nonsense, how are tone distinctions in syllables any more difficult than voiced-unvoiced or aspirated-unaspirated distinctions in consonants? It all depends on your perspective. Have you ever noticed that non-native english speakers tend to totally screw up the stress accent in english words? And you make the mistake of confusing the writing system with the language. Chinese is no more a "character-based" language than english or tagalog. Hanzi, the writing system used most for it is ideographic, and that has advantages and disadvantages. But, if they wanted to, the Chinese could throw Hanzi out in the morning and start using Bopomofo.

--
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I have to disagree (none / 0) (#134)
by AndrewLB on Mon Aug 29, 2005 at 03:22:35 PM EST

Hi, while I completely understand your viewpoint, I have to disagree in a number of areas.

First off, the English syllabic template is, comparative to that of say, Chinese or Japanese (Chinese being CVC and Japanese being CCVC (the coda being a nasal, and the foremost possible onset being a glottal stop)), MUCH more resceptive to borrowed words due to its very flexible syllabic template (I forget what it is, but take the word "spring" (sprɪŋz) for example, that alone is CCCVCC.  This allows for a more natural borrowing of words.  That said, the way Chinese borrow words is not systemitized in the least. I only studied Chinese for a semester, (and was quite thoroughly beat down by the tone system, the writing system was no problem at all) but I recall many of the borrowed words had both a phonetic aspect, and a sementic aspect in respsects to a character used.  For example, tank had the phonetic "tank" sound, but the Chinese character for wagon/car was also present.  Not positive though, it's been a while.  But anyway, while you have such semantic situations, other words (such as Jianada) are purely phonetic, while yet other words have a purely semantic borrowing.

Secondly, while you say that "non-native english speakers tend to totally screw up the stress accent in english words," I feel that I should add that the implications of this in English are very, VERY different from those in a tonal language, where semantic meaning is differentiated by tones.
The classic example is 馬 vs 媽 (I think... I don't have the chinese IME installed, only Japanese), in which both are pronounced "ma," but the first means "horse," and the second means "mother." Now, context would generally make the meaning obvious, and the first thing you learn when you start studying Chinese is that the tone system you're learning in class is a good deal different from what the Chinese use naturally (though this is the same in any language), but still, you can't possibly compare the intonation system in English (or Japanese, for that matter, as seen in situations like 日本 vs 二本 or 花 vs 鼻) to that of Chinese.  It's just not practical.

Also, I don't think the Chinese could do away with Hanzi any more than the Japanese can do away with Kanji.  The number of homophones in those languages is far, far too great, not to mention the massive number of words whose origins lie solely in the semantic combination of two characters.

Anyway, since my knowledge of Chinese linguistics
is a little shaky, I'd really appreciate the input of other linguistics students on this matter.
http://andrewlb.com
[ Parent ]

I must violently agree with you. (none / 0) (#135)
by HereticMessiah on Mon Aug 29, 2005 at 07:06:48 PM EST

First off, the English syllabic template is, comparative to that of say, Chinese or Japanese [...], MUCH more resceptive to borrowed words due to its very flexible syllabic template (I forget what it is, but take the word "spring[s]" (sprɪŋz) for example, that alone is CCCVCC. This allows for a more natural borrowing of words.
I agree, but that's only if you're borrowing from IE languages, or languages with similar enough phonetics to English for it to make borrowing easy. OTOH, it's much more difficult for English to borrow from, say, Vietnamese than it is for Mandarin, Cantonese, or some other Chinese language to borrow from it. The ease of borrowing depends on what languages are involved rather than some apparent inherent limitation in phonology.
[A]nd was quite thoroughly beat down by the tone system, the writing system was no problem at all.
With Mandarin, it's the other way around for me. Tones I can deal with, but the complexity of Hanzi is another one. Now, that's scary! It sent me running to the simple elegance of Hangeul.
Secondly, while you say that "non-native english speakers tend to totally screw up the stress accent in english words," I feel that I should add that the implications of this in English are very, VERY different from those in a tonal language, where semantic meaning is differentiated by tones.
Ah, but you're leaving out that I also brought up other distinctions like voicing and aspiration (and I ought to have mentioned one of my personal favourites: palatalisation. I love Gaelic!) There's a lot of people out there who can't tell the difference between the words "dick" and "tick" in English, especially if you drop the aspiration on the "t" in "tick". And in Irish, there's a significant difference between the meaning of "droichid" and "droichead", which are only differenciated by whether the final "d" is palatalised.
Also, I don't think the Chinese could do away with Hanzi any more than the Japanese can do away with Kanji. The number of homophones in those languages is far, far too great, not to mention the massive number of words whose origins lie solely in the semantic combination of two characters.
The Chinese wouldn't do away with Hanzi because it serves as a common medium between the otherwise mutually intelligible languages that get bunched together as Chinese. I don't think homophones are quite the massive deal that they're sometimes made out to be. After all, if they're that big a problem, how in heaven's name do people understand each other when they speak? ;-) Ok, so I'm being a bit facetious, but you understand where I'm coming from, I hope. Homophones make ideographic characters an aid, but they don't make them a necessity. It's entirely possible, if unlikely, for Mandarin and Japanese to abandon Han characters in the morning. Korean is the most obvious example that it's possible. Hanja importance has withered quite dramatically during the last century to the benefit of Hangeul, even in South Korea, which never decided to abandon Hanja.

--
Disagree with me? Post a reply.
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[ Parent ]
I am somewhat pacified (none / 0) (#136)
by AndrewLB on Fri Sep 02, 2005 at 01:51:53 AM EST

Sorry for the slow response dude, had a deferred exam to study for, and I'd forgotten most of the course material, you know how it is (possibly).

I agree, but that's only if you're borrowing from IE languages, or languages with similar enough phonetics to English for it to make borrowing easy. OTOH, it's much more difficult for English to borrow from, say, Vietnamese than it is for Mandarin, Cantonese, or some other Chinese language to borrow from it. The ease of borrowing depends on what languages are involved rather than some apparent inherent limitation in phonology.

I agree there, as there are naturally processes and traits in each individual language that makes it difficult for other languages to reproduce (for example, [θ ð] in English isn't very common at all), but at the same time, but I still feel that a larger maximal syllable template allows for basically more flexiable borrowing of words (though not necessarily more accurate)

With Mandarin, it's the other way around for me. Tones I can deal with, but the complexity of Hanzi is another one. Now, that's scary! It sent me running to the simple elegance of Hangeul.

I had some experience with Japanese, so I had already gotten passed the hump, I guess.

Ah, but you're leaving out that I also brought up other distinctions like voicing and aspiration (and I ought to have mentioned one of my personal favourites: palatalisation. I love Gaelic!) There's a lot of people out there who can't tell the difference between the words "dick" and "tick" in English, especially if you drop the aspiration on the "t" in "tick". And in Irish, there's a significant difference between the meaning of "droichid" and "droichead", which are only differenciated by whether the final "d" is palatalised.

Heh, Gaelic.  It's VSO, right? (I don't have ethnologue installed at the moment, new format).  Isn't it presenting something of a problem for the standardization of syntactic trees? (I'm just entering second year linguistics, and syntax is driving me nuts since every single book and person I consult has a different way of interpreting and noting it).  But yes, I do agree with you regarding palatization and similar phonetic processes.  However, English doesn't have the same problem that languages with smaller maximal syllable templates have regarding homophones, which in turn allows for a bit more allowance when it comes to interpretation via contextual elements.

The Chinese wouldn't do away with Hanzi because it serves as a common medium between the otherwise mutually intelligible languages that get bunched together as Chinese. I don't think homophones are quite the massive deal that they're sometimes made out to be. After all, if they're that big a problem, how in heaven's name do people understand each other when they speak? ;-) Ok, so I'm being a bit facetious, but you understand where I'm coming from, I hope. Homophones make ideographic characters an aid, but they don't make them a necessity. It's entirely possible, if unlikely, for Mandarin and Japanese to abandon Han characters in the morning. Korean is the most obvious example that it's possible. Hanja importance has withered quite dramatically during the last century to the benefit of Hangeul, even in South Korea, which never decided to abandon Hanja.

Mm, I dunno, seeing "sentaku" in kana would confuse the hell out of me? Is it choice, or laundry?
I actually don't know a whole lot about Korean beyond a little essay I wrote regarding Japanese, Korean, and Altaic (Oono Susumu's 日本語の起源 was a life saver, of sorts), so I don't really know how they dealt with it, to be honest.  The similarities between Japanese and Korean are mostly syntactic, with only a 10% similarity in vocabulary (not counting onomatepoeia), which would lead me to believe that their language is less based on Chinese character pronunciation (unlike Japanese, where Chinese readings reigns supreme over like, 90% of their nouns).
Buutt, I'm not certain.
In any event, I'd be reluctant to either dismiss or add Korea as a positive example of dropping ideographic characters in favor of a purely phonetic system without looking into it a bit further, ESPECIALLY considering that the Koreans still use Hanja to a certain extent.
In any event, I have severe doubts regarding Japanese's ability to function without kanji.  I know that when the people I chat with online write in hiragana thinking it's 'helping' my poor gaijin reading skills, i just get annoyed and confused sometimes.  As for Chinese, the root of all things Asian in one form or another, you might be right.  My opinion IS more opinion based than factual, and my experience with Chinese is kinda limited.  However, I'm not convinced that it can be discarded either.

Anyway, thanks for your response, and again, sorry for the slow reply.
http://andrewlb.com
[ Parent ]

do any of you even speak chinese? (none / 0) (#141)
by dropshadow on Tue Sep 13, 2005 at 06:23:42 PM EST

mandarin has 4 tonal inflections, cantonese 7. the sheer combination even with monosyllabic words is mind boggling.

[ Parent ]
I must vehemently agree with original poster (none / 0) (#144)
by FuckedUpandSoAreYou on Sun Sep 25, 2005 at 12:50:50 PM EST

Mandarin has proven itself remarkable unable to adapt to modern life. For example, I walk to the local McDonald's for a #1 and this yellow bitch asks if I want "flies" with it. I say no, it comes with Fries alleady. Anger crosses her face briefly and she repeats the flies are not flee, they are incruded with your order. I say look bitch, If I want ginger flied dead dog I'll go next door. Read the menu. Chlist.

[ Parent ]
Wait a minute (none / 0) (#145)
by Cro Magnon on Wed Dec 14, 2005 at 02:37:37 PM EST

I'm not sure I understood what you are saying. Does McDonalds charge for the flies? In my day, you didn't have to pay for them, they just showed up wherever their food was.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
America: Empire which is not an Empire (none / 0) (#137)
by aguila on Mon Sep 05, 2005 at 02:59:56 AM EST

In this discussion, what interests me is the perception of America, specifically the US, as an Empire.  Yes, there is money to be made, and lost.
Yes, some aspects of societal structures experienced elsewhere appear to exist -- social and economic classes, as well as a class that perhaps approaches the aristocratic classes of older societies.  But there are very clear differences.

The wealthy or those who become wealthy are extremely more diverse and unique in the U.S. from any other society.  There are multiple paths to this achievement.  In other societies, paths to wealth are limited to birth or political power.  Aristocracy probably could be akin to Hollywood stardom if we consider money as the sole measurement.

But wealth alone cannot explain what drove the U.S. to modern prominence appearing to others as an Empire.  

Perhaps the real question is to consider what an Empire is, before comparing the U.S. to that.

Empire's by definition, and the evidence of history I believe supports this, have been entities of planned force by dictators.  Ancient Rome, the Ottoman Empire, the Persian Empire, and onwards including those dreamed of Empires of the Soviet Union, Communist Ideology, Nazism, Fascism and the Militarists of Japan, Napoleonic France, the British and Spanish Empires, all have one thing in common -- they were planned by one or a few to be what they were each known as.

The U.S. is perhaps a member of a handful of societies in human history which did not plan to be an Empire of itself, and certainly could never have achieved the status of SuperPower by planning.  The U.S. was forced into this position by war.  It is a fact that prior to WWII the U.S. was still mostly an agrarian economy and tanks from WWI were in operation.

But to discuss this is to miss the entire point which is what is really the engine of American wealth which is why, unfortunately when the term American is used no one seriously thinks of SOUTH AMERICA, they think instead of the U.S.  So what is it about the U.S. that is that unique.  This is what radical religionists will not accept or dreamers of power will overlook.

The engine of what drives the U.S. is the freedom an individual has AND that what an individual creates is as protected and valued as the individual's person.  This means a percolation of different ideas, ways of doing business and more.
The risk of living and doing business this way is huge.  It is literally about risking everything a person does and owns, and sometimes believes.

The result of this dynamism has been a lot of sorrowful mistakes, yes, but people come to the U.S. because they are clear that the chance exists to try and own their own success and if there is failure at least it will be failure that they own.

China can become an Empire in the old sense; all the old Empires were repressive.  That it can do, it did so in the past.  But in the modern competitive and productive sense, no.  Modern Japan could be close in this respect, but the dynanism of that society is not as raw as what occurs in the U.S. in every and any state.

The items produced by this dynamism MTV, Jordache Jeans, Pamela Anderson and Paris Hilton wanna be's  -- are images which people actually want.  It will be difficult to understand how the suicide bombers of Hamass, bin Laden, and other like-minded associates will convince an entire planet that beating women, breaking their legs and raising girls to be nothing more than prositutes or baby factories is a good thing; let alone a holy thing.

The other dynamic force in the U.S. also is not what other's expect.  Yes, there is the touted freedom of religion.  However, there is also the right to be free OF IT.  So when Pat Robertson, discusses his frustration with the President of Venezuela and says something stupid, about killing him.  Most U.S. citizens will be surprised and laugh or surprised and pray for his mind and soul.
However, in the East Muslims will think that Christianity has a fatwah too, a permission on religious grounds to kill.

Nope we don't do things that way.  And while many U.S. citizens are astonished that Europeans can actually take more than a month off and have decent health care most are unwilling to pay for it as Europeans do.
=============== Lakota Sioux: Mitakuye Oyasin English Translation: We are all related.

Displacing America: A New Chinese Empire? | 145 comments (123 topical, 22 editorial, 0 hidden)
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