Recently David Pilling of the Financial Times published a thought-provoking article under the title: “Asia Pays Tribute to Its New Superpower,” which discusses how the rise of China during the time of economic crisis has been perceived within the region and beyond. I found the true nature of this article troubling. David Pilling said it right: there is a sense of “trepidation at the rise of China’s power.” Such idea fuels much of my thoughts the past couple of days. Pilling opened his article by a contemplation of a potential multi-polar world.
The article lists some indicative examples to demonstrate how the world has changed its grasp diplomatically toward China. By owning roughly $1,400bn of the U.S. asset, Chinese government had quieted Hillary Clinton on issue related to human rights, Taiwan and Tibet during her visit early this year. During the G20 gathering in London, France’s president, Nicolas Sarkozy, expressed his withdrawal from supporting Tibetan independence. Smaller countries have provided greater service. Vietnam’s prime minister, Nguyen Tan Dung recently spent one week touring China in anxious mode to close the $11 billion trade gap between the two countries. The South Korean warning of the “Beijing Consensus” reported to leave its Korean diplomats in Beijing apprehensive. What’s more? Taiwan is likely to allow China’s Mobile to purchase 12 percent of the Far East Tone, a Taiwanese mobile operator. Such commitment arguably was arranged to earn Beijing’s agreement toward the Taiwanese’s presence at the WHO’s annual meeting. In just a few days, the news was sufficient to boost Taiwanese stock market up nearly 15% after Beijing announced its consent.
I sometimes wonder how the political and economic landscape of the world be transformed if China grows to be the second largest economy in the world taking over Japan and the European Union. That day may not be postponed that much further. Nonetheless, despite an impressive rapid growth in the past two decades, at $7,600 per capita, China’s per capita GDP still ranks 107th in the world. The country itself is also facing various internal problems namely food and resource shortage, raising unemployment, social and regional marginalization, as well as a degrading environment that together raise serious question of Chinese economic sustainability. There are much awaiting this nation in the post-crisis period to resolve its internal issue. For now, the idea of a multi-polar world offers me much greater comfort.