British historian Andrew Roberts says that this space venture is another strong indication of "the dawn of a Chinese century" (The Sunday Telegraph, Oct. 19). To this historian, "It is high time that we woke up to the threat that an awakened Chinese empire poses for our present [English-speaking] global hegemony."
Napoleon once referred to China as "a sleeping giant" and then predicted that "when she awakes she will shake the world."
Beijing's $100 billion trade surplus with the United States is not the only economic concern about China worrying the Western nations. In the last 10 years the Chinese economy has grown by an annual average of 10 percent (The Times, Oct. 20). Present growth patterns indicate that it is poised to overtake France in 2004 and Britain in 2005 (The Sunday Times, Oct. 12).
If by mid century (as some are predicting) China should replace the United States as the leading global superpower, the world might be staring into the face of a new dark age of oppression reminiscent of the Third Reich.
The 2003 annual report of Amnesty International comments about China's performance: "Serious human rights violations continued and in some respects the situation deteriorated. Tens of thousands of people continue to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association or belief. Torture and ill treatment remain widespread" (The Sunday Telegraph, Oct. 19). Of course, some China watchers pin their hopes on potential political and cultural reforms.
As we go to press, we may be seeing a substantial American policy shift towards China in the wake of China's new prime minister's visit to the United States. A front-page feature article in the International Herald Tribune tells us: "The Bush administration announced Monday that it was dropping the long-standing American policy of 'strategic ambiguity' about relations between China and Taiwan and clearly warned Taipei not to hold a referendum that could fuel the island's independence movement" (Dec. 9). (Sources: The Sunday Telegraph, The Sunday Times, [all London], International Herald Tribune.)