Saturday, April 3, 2010

Chinese threat

The Clarion Content reads over and over of the imminent Chinese threat to American hegemony. Even setting aside the massive distention of the reverse population pyramid, we don't buy it. Mostly because far too often we read stories like these two.

The first is from our friends over at the MEP Report. It is tragic but indicative. There is a psychological malaise from which China has yet to free itself that limits its ability to resource its potential power. There is too much gone wrong for it to harness all of its kinetic energy. An irony, insofar as this story is about the eviction of a family from their pig farm and their home. Local authorities hiding behind the rubric of the central government had ordered the family to sell their home and farm for a bargain basement price or face eviction. The ninety-two year old farmer and son refused to leave, even in the face of bulldozers and a crew of more than 100 people. In the end, they immolated themselves, lit themselves on fire, in protest. The bulldozers were delayed by no more than two hours, tearing the farm and home down with the bodies still smoldering nearby. Some reports suggest that officials there wanted to have the demolition completed before April 1, when a new relocation law would make forced relocation more difficult.

The other story is less repugnant, but no less indicative. The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has been investigating drywall supplied by China, after thousands of health complaints have been filed.1 Tests show the sulfuric gases being emitted by Chinese drywall are more than 100 times normal in some cases. In addition to the variety of health maladies being reported, this is causing all kinds of damage essentially to anything metal; air conditioner coils, electrical wires and outlets, as well as appliances. The CPSC says replacement is required, not just of all the drywall, but also the electrical components and wiring, outlets, switches and circuit breakers, and all gas piping and all fire alarm systems that came in contact with the drywall.

"Made in China" is not sounding so great after that paragraph.

Both of these stories are tiny examples that emblemize the massive changes that have to occur in Chinese culture before anything remotely resembling worldwide hegemony might be attained. In our view, they are a by-product of years of autocracy. The lack of consistent, real property rights in China promotes a political instability that is like building a skyscraper directly on a fault line. The lack of consumer products safety and inspection is a fundamental underminer of Chinese credibility. We have great respect for China's promise, but fears of its imminent rise to world domination are wildly overblown. Unfortunately, to this point, its implosion is equally likely.

1Just in case one had any doubts about the insurance companies fucking one over, we would like to point out that the San Jose Mercury News reports, "Many homeowners in Florida who've sought help from their insurance companies to deal with the damage [from the drywall] say the companies not only deny their claims but also drop their policies."

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