China’s growth is breathtaking. It uses about half the world’s cement supplies and about a third of all steel production. Its consumer market for mobile phones is growing at an incredible rate and the number of Internet users is multiplying fast. This country of some 1.3 billion people is very thirsty for oil and gas—a significant factor in today’s high fuel prices.
According to author Harriet Sargeant, “China’s need for energy supplies is taking it all over the world, from Asia to Russia and even South America where it has signed trade pacts with Brazil and energy exploration deals with Argentina” (Daily Mail, “Unleashing the Dragon,” April 12).
The United States is very concerned about China’s intentions on several fronts. Some five years ago, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice wrote: “China resents the role of the United States in [the] Asia-Pacific region” (The Economist, March 26). Although in her recent visit there she did not mention this problem directly, it still exists as the Asia-Pacific area has traditionally been under heavy American influence, especially since World War II.
To limit Chinese military expansion, the United States has at least temporarily persuaded the European Union not to remove sanctions and start sending sophisticated military hardware to this Far Eastern country. Militarily, America also worries about aggressive Chinese intentions toward Taiwan and wonders why it does not restrain the nuclear ambitions of North Korea in a more convincing fashion.
Harriet Sargeant, who has arranged for the publishing of a new book titled Shanghai, poses some frightening questions in her Daily Mail article. “Would China press the button? It’s the new superpower, gobbling up the world’s resources. But in its desperate quest for energy, China is forging dangerous alliances that could push us to the brink of nuclear war … China’s ruling elite appears to only dimly understand the forces they have unleashed” (emphasis added).
Yet she cautions us that “this then is not a new Cold War and China is not Russia. Despite a conflict of interest, the U.S. and China depend on each other for financial success and even economic stability. China’s demand stimulates world economic growth on which American prosperity depends.”
Keep your eyes on China. Clearly it has become a capitalist country, but with a dictatorial communist government—a very dangerous combination in this explosive world. (Sources: Daily Mail [London], The Economist.)