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Alfred McCoy: Will China be the Next Global Hegemon?
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In 1958, Chinese leader Mao Zedong launched an attempt at the instant industrialization of an agricultural society, including the creation of little backyard steel furnaces in its rural countryside. That vast convulsion went by the optimistic name of the Great Leap Forward. It ended up disrupting the country’s agricultural system and causing a disastrous famine in which millions died. If, at that nadir moment in China’s modern history, 1960, I had told you that the country would indeed have a successful Great Leap Forward in the years to come, would, in fact, pass Japan to become the world’s second largest economy in 2010 and be slated to pass the United States to become number one by 2030, I’m sure you would have considered it an absurd real-world version of a fairy tale. And yet in the years between 1960 and 2018, that’s exactly what happened. China industrialized in a staggering way, became a planetary leader in technology, and is now returning to the sort of imperial preeminence that it hasn’t known since the Qing dynasty began to buckle under the pressure of the West and the opium wars back in the early nineteenth century.

Think of China’s development in the last few decades as the planet’s true Great Leap Forward. After all, in my lifetime, that country journeyed from a third world nation to, as historian Alfred McCoy, author of In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power, suggests today, a potential global hegemon. Of course, all of this is happening on a Trumpian planet in which the very meaning of hegemony, as McCoy suggests today, may be up for grabs.

(Republished from TomDispatch by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: China 
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  1. Adrian E. says:

    “If, at that nadir moment in China’s modern history, 1960, I had told you that the country would indeed have a successful Great Leap Forward in the years to come, would, in fact, pass Japan to become the world’s second largest economy in 2010 and be slated to pass the United States to become number one by 2030, I’m sure you would have considered it an absurd real-world version of a fairy tale.”

    Why should that be considered so unusual? For many centuries, China was a large part of the world economy, and it used to be more technologically advanced than Europe, which was mostly a rather backward area. In the 15th and 16th century, the Chinese share of the world economy was still above 20% – higher than it is now.

    Only then, in the modern era, Europe and (later) North America dominated for some time, but when China becomes the biggest economic power, that is only a return to normalcy.

    After all, China has a very large population, and they reach high IQ values on average. There is simply no reason why Europeans and North Americans should dominate in the long run.

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  2. Your consistent exaggeration of the alleged ill effects resulting from what you characterize as Trump’s policies suggests that you are motivated by something other than objectivity and an honest concern for the fate of the citizens and workers of the United States.

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  3. Anon[853] • Disclaimer says:

    It’s almost inevitable that authoritarian China will become the world’s next hegemon. This will be very bad for what’s left of Western Civilization, which now also includes Japan and Korea to an extent. A Balkanized, racially polarized United States hellbent on oppressing its single greatest asset, White Caucasians, simply cannot compete with a near racially homogeneous, high IQ, resource-rich, populous China.

    In order to compete effectively with China, the US will need:

    National unity – quickly going through mass immigration; just check out those scum tearing down our statues

    Sound economic policy – out the door once NAMs seize power, just like in Venezuela

    Hope for the future – already gone; whites are suiciding themselves out of existence through drug overdoses and intentional self-inflicted deaths

    Respect for property rights – will go once minorities seize the government permanently by demographic change; first there will be more extreme affirmative action and other redistributionist policies such as national healthcare and college tuition, then outright theft through reparations (the democrat Georgia gubernatorial candidate supports the latter). See South Africa if you disagree that’s where we are headed

    Meritocracy – already gone in the corporate world due to affirmative action and racial quotas

    Free intellectual discourse – this was one of our country’s greatest assets in the past. It made our culture dominant and our image positive in many areas where we wished to maintain influence globally. But it is already gone; the radical left now has entire websites devoted to doxxing Trump supporters and getting them fired. And democrat controlled media and tech companies deplatform their critics. Even light jokes totally acceptable 10 years ago could now ruin a man these days

    Social stability, respect for traditional values – gone; white birthrate in free fall as gender-bending weirdos run the asylum

    Commitment to the defense industry – will definitely wane in the future as the CotF diverts military spending to social programs for themselves

    A high birth rate among valuable whites – nope, already way gone

    An entertainment industry with global appeal – Hollywood is quickly fading globally as its left wing, non-traditional movies tank; the games industry could also go this way if the radical left gets its way in their quest to force companies to insert their political propaganda into products

    Public trust in institutions – wwwwaaaaayyyyy gone; media is hated and rightly distrusted as it is nothing but a wing of the democrat party; the intelligence agencies are disbelieved because they attempted to prevent Trump’s election with fake dossiers, inappropriate spying, and organized leaks to democrat media outlets

    I could go on, but you get the picture. Unless something changes soon, our descendants will look back and curse the Boomer generation for its folly. Scary times ahead.

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  4. @Anon

    You did forget remove fluoride from water, and toothpaste, label all that processed food stuff we are eating daily, that should at least help the next generation heal, and place it in the same level with the competition.

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  5. “In 1958, Chinese leader Mao Zedong launched an attempt at the instant industrialization of an agricultural society, including the creation of little backyard steel furnaces in its rural countryside. That vast convulsion went by the optimistic name of the Great Leap Forward. It ended up disrupting the country’s agricultural system and causing a disastrous famine in which millions died”.

    Rubbish.

    The tangible benefits from the three years of the Great Leap far surpassed any comparable benefits that much richer India achieved in 30 years.

    China’s death rate never surpassed India’s during the Leap (life expectancy doubled under Mao).

    The furnaces, which Mao approved with great reluctance (“If they’s so productive, how come Germany doesn’t use them?”) were fodder for our media, but nothing more.

    The worst El Nino in a century disrupted China’s grain production (and cut Canada’s Prairie wheat crop in half) but what really made things tough for China was America’s grain embargo.

    At no time did the peasants, 90% of the population and heavily armed for the first time in history, lose cohesion or faith in the government and none–even in the hardest-hit areas–ever blamed Mao.

    Mao found China destitute and despairing and, after twenty-five years under embargoes against food, technology, finance and UN participation–left a literate land with double the population and doubled life expectancy, a world power (and no debt).

    IT is time serious scholars like Professor McCoy started doing serious research before pretending to write serious appraisals of China. High time, I would say.

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  6. @Anon

    Thanks for giving me a way to at least worry analytically about the challenge. I’ve been wondering for some time how the West could respond and I suspect that, long-term and realistically, it will be to trade our soybeans and chicken feet for their quantum communications equipment.

    As David Graeber observed in his conclusion to Debt: the First Five Thousand Years, “There is every reason to believe that, from China’s point of view, this the first stage of a very long process of reducing the United States to something like a traditional Chinese client state and, of course, Chinese rulers are not–any more than the rulers of any other empire–motivated primarily by benevolence, there’s always a political cost and what that headline marked was the first glimmering stuff what that cost might ultimately be”.

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  7. No.

    Hegemony is a dumb prize for a stupid game.

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  8. anon[146] • Disclaimer says:

    Hegemony is a suckers game, a fools errand. The Chinese will have none of it.

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  9. Alfred McCoy: Will China be the Next Global Hegemon?

    Maybe. Eventually. For one thing, The US has the world reserve currency. The next reserve currency is likely to be the SDR, a basket of currencies including China’s. So, it would be a “multi polar” currency.

    China is likely trying to find a sweet spot where it derives the most benefits and incurs the least cost for its “imperial” footprint. The Chinese and Russians talk about a multi-polar world rather than a hegemonic one. It might just be talk, but it might also reflect a different political perspective.

    We may be heading into a different world. One where military power takes second or third place to technological prowess and social amity and cohesion. Is there a better system than the American one of hyper financialization and militarization? The US is betting its future on the military, that the military can solve its problems.

    It’s nice to see Professor McCoy discussing these issues.

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  10. anonymous[317] • Disclaimer says:

    Sound economic policy – out the door once NAMs seize power, just like in Venezuela

    In America the best economic policy has always been government protects the people from monopoly powers where ever or how ever such power is accumulates or however such power is wielded against the masses by its owners or those in control. I remember a Dupont Nylon case; generic word Nylon had become so well known as Dupont Nylon that the Justice Dept separated Dupont Corporation from its product Nylon, I think it was Monsanto corporation that bought the process to produce Dupont Nylon. about 1965? There were many other producers of Nylon at the time, because there was no patent but no one could sell alternatives. There were many Sherman and Clayton Act court actions all designed to prevent monopoly power from stifling competition.

    Monopoly power in private interest always interferes with open, free competition and douses the fires of competitive capitalism.

    Respect for property right – will go once minorities seize the government permanently by demographic change; first there will be more extreme affirmative action and other redistributionist policies such as national healthcare and college tuition, then outright theft through reparations (the democrat Georgia gubernatorial candidate supports the latter). See South Africa if you disagree that’s where we are headed

    I disagree and I don’t have to look outside of America to explain why I disagree. Private properties whether they be real estate, patents, or copyrights make wealthy lords out of a few, and deplete the power and rights of the masses. Private properties are Aristocratic constructs designed to use rule of law as the means to build personal and corporate by taking wealth from the pockets of the masses or by depriving the masses in some way. , .. Private interest in possession of patents, copyright and deeded estates [Trump Towers] use them to build private empires.

    Strike patent and copyrights off the books, and watch Microsoft, Google, Intel and many others crash and burn, in their places will appear thousands of small corporations and backyard inventors. Competition without monopoly power is needed to keep open a competitive marketplace. Capitalism was designed to serve a competitive market. Competing against a private interest that has a rule of law granted monopoly is like competing against the government itself. . it really can’t successful be done.

    Copyright, patents and titles to land account for 80% or more of the oligarch wealth; lopsided wealth that has lopsided opportunity to succeed and done so by sucking the distributed wealth of our nation once enjoyed by millions into the bank accounts of a few. The trend to privatize by copyright, patent or deed has accelerated since 1946 and government has changed its philosophy from defender of free and open competition against monopoly power to creator and defender of private abuse of government monopoly (public monopoly now in private ownership or control); in other words, the government now defends the opposite of what is used to penalize. This single transition: can privatization the sequestration of wealth in America from well distributed among the masses to highly concentrated in the bank accounts of a very few. USA policy now defends the private owner of deed, patent or copyright against all competition; but in so doing, it has advanced the cause of economic slavery. To track results of monopoly power in private hands, see the enclosures acts 1492 to 1890 and the coffee houses which traded copyrights and patents as if they were stocks and bonds.

    Privatization has caused the government to be the defender of personal wealth of the Oligarch and their massive in size corporate monopoly powered empires. Instead of the defender of the little man against organized monopoly powers the government now punishes those who infringe a monopoly power. Until all that has been privatized is returned to the public domain no progress is going to be made in America. No voice from below can be strong enough to get an audience. Eventually the greed of the private monopoly owners will squeeze all remaining wealth from the masses, until total failure occurs.

    I compute that privatization of monopoly power that belongs to government accounts for most of that which today we all call “Jewish Power” but really is intended to mean “Zionist power”. Monopoly provides the power to defeat all competitors, and conceptually, it can be shown that the principles upon which Deep state Neocon ism is based, is exactly that, Neocons intend to own and control everything by blocking all competition.

    Commitment to the defense industry Defense should be decentralized, just as the constitution anticipated. Every state should maintain a military; its composition should be mandated to require each state to build, train and maintain its own military, just as the rules for the environment were turned over to the states, so that no central military should exist, but the President shall be commander in Chief of the Militia. In this way the technology for defense belongs equally with each of the states. and the people in the states can restrict the defense industry providers from providing military supplies or equipment or technology to those who are foreigners. There is no reason on earth for American weapons manufacturers to supply Military goods, services or technology to foreigners, and every reason not to.

    I liked the article a lot, and thank Anon for his outline, but find consider error in the logic he used to explain its part.

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  11. Anonymous[140] • Disclaimer says:
    @anonymous

    I 100% agree. A lot of ordinary Americans love parents because they think parents preserve American quality of life when it is actually the opposite.

    The most heavily patented parts of our economy, healthcare, produce the worst results for Americans while the least patented part of our economy like tech produced the most benefit.

    That is at until the mega tech companies all merged to create monopolies that is.

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