Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Onion and Chinese Strategic and Economic Talks

Last week’s Onion was written as if (I hope) the humor weekly had become part of the Chinese “Wu Wan Mei Amalgamated Salvage Fisheries and Polymer Injection Group.” The articles were humorless examples of propaganda, naive boosterism, and redaction that would make J. Edgar Hoover blush. “American Consumer Masses Agree: It Fish Time!” “Nothing At All Happens To 28 Tibetan Protesters, Their Families,” “Clear American Sky A Constant Reminder Of Industrial Inferiority.”

Written on the occasion of the two-day strategic and economic talks between President Obama and US cabinet-level officials with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan and State Councilor Dai Bingguo, Volume 45 issue 30 was a note-perfect take on, at least, my image of the Chinese: chauvinistic, authoritarian, generous to a fault, and completely irony-challenged.

China is the world’s third largest economy, and growing. We have a two billion dollar-per-year trade deficit with them, which they lend back to us by buying t-bills. They currently own over 800 billion dollars worth. At the meeting, the Americans nag the Chinese about currency manipulation, while the Chinese chide American profligacy.

However this meeting turns out, Americans will see more Chinese impingement on our culture, and it won’t be in the form of Taoist teachers (actually we could use those). America, which has alloyed European and African music, operated on a mostly-accurate "systems" understanding of the world, and sponsored (British) scientist James Lovelock in his development of the Gaia Hypothesis, could be swamped by a billion peasants trying to ape nineteenth century imperial capitalism. Just when we were starting to understand human liberty, to say nothing about our relationship to the planet, we have to educate the pretenders to a 3000 year old culture. And do it broke.

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