While we in the moribund West gabble self-congratulatory nonsense about the “right” and “wrong” sides of history, China — which doesn’t bother with such rubbish — is rapidly reconfiguring itself. It has always been aware of the risks that Western infection brings, and so it is clamping down on foreign influences, and on the free expression of ideas (such freedom of expression being itself a Western notion, of course, and a relatively recent one at that). Foreign journalists and NGOs are leaving the country, and homegrown muckrakers are being rounded up, pour encourager les autres.
Meanwhile, China’s regional expansion made another great leap forward this week, with word that their Navy will begin land-reclamation work at Scarborough Shoal, just west of Luzon.
What has made this great expansion possible? The great wealth that China has accumulated through, among other things, its openness to global trade and influences — and in particular, the 3.6 trillion-dollar trade surplus it has racked up against a decadent and profligate United States since the year 2000. That kind of money will buy a lot of nice new things, including a robust and rambunctious military, and a fat class of loyal political dependents.
Now China, having banked a substantial fraction of the wealth of the West, has the luxury of letting itself “be itself” once again, in far more comfortable circumstances. We will point, and sputter, but little more than that, I think. Really, it’s about all we can manage these days, anyway.