Saturday, November 19, 2011

US vs. China: Who rules?



As politicians and financiers bring their different perspectives to the APEC summit in Honolulu, a single idea is proving a unifying force. With global economic power shifting eastwards, the chorus of anti-China rhetoric is growing ever louder.

­If there is one US state where the Occupy movement has little chance, it is probably Hawaii. Despite a high concentration of politicians and Wall Street bigwigs mingling at the APEC summit, the only place people are willing to occupy en masse here are the beaches. With one exception. The few protesters allowed in downtown Honolulu were speaking out against greed and social injustice. They were against economic inequality. They were against China.

Coincidentally or not, the mood on the podium was similarly hostile. Employing some of his sharpest language yet, US President Barack Obama threatened Beijing with punitive economic steps unless it started "playing by the rules." His political opponents were even more belligerent.

“I happen to think that the Communist Chinese government will end up on the ash heap of history if they do not change their virtues,” Rick Perry, Republican presidential candidate, said in the course of the debates.

“We have to have China understand that, like everybody else on the world stage, they have to play by the rules!” responded his rival for the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney.

Rules, rules and again rules. As the country that has been ruling the roost for decades, the United States has never been shy of policing others. But as China’s GDP continues to grow at a rate of nine per cent a year, against two-and-a-half per cent growth in the US, the reprimand seems to be internally driven. more