Americans should better understand, not shun, China

Photo by Philip Jägenstedt

Photo by Philip Jägenstedt

By T.J. Mayes

The conventional wisdom in the U.S. intelligence community is that the United States will no longer be the world’s lone superpower by 2030. The rise of China, India, Brazil and Russia will not lead to the bipolar world that defined the latter half of the 20th century, but one with multiple players jockeying for economic, rather than military, power.

Economic power will be the “centerpiece” of the State Department’s activities for the foreseeable future. The U.S.-China relationship will, for better or worse, define the 21st century. This has implications all over the globe, from Eastern Europe to Africa.

We’ve known this for a long time. Trade between the nations is enormous, and the Chinese hold much of our debt. The defining foreign policy play of the Obama Administration, at least in the long-term, is the pivot from a focus on the Middle East to Asia instead.

An increase in domestic oil production might have something to do with this, as our dependence on foreign oil will wane. So might a reticence on the part of Americans to continue our efforts at imposing power or brokering peace in the region.

A child of the Cold War once told me that the “Communist Manifesto” was required reading in his high school social studies class. Our grandmothers had to teach our fathers how to think like the Soviets, so they could ultimately beat our enemy.

My educators failed to teach me enough about the complicated situation in the Middle East after 9/11, and have not equipped me to think thoughtfully about Asia. While it would be imprudent to call China a foe, it would behoove millennials and subsequent generations to learn more about Chinese history and the way they see the world.

China has a different culture marked by different customs, history, and concerns. We must be prepared to face the new world order with an understanding of the Chinese worldview as they will inevitably understand ours.

The roots of conflicts past go back to either the age of imperialism or the Crusades, both of which are familiar to our western orientation.

A rudimentary understanding of China’s past economic domination, its geopolitical obsession with avoiding besiegement and the ability and tendency of its leaders to play the long game will be necessary to maintain a reasonable American foreign policy throughout our lifetime.

It is our duty to reasonably educate ourselves and our children on our “frenemy” to ensure future peace and prosperity.

Posted by on December 12, 2012. Filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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