July 9th 2011

Why China Will Never Rule The World. Travels in the two Chinas. Troy Parfitt.

Beijing Downtown

Image by reg_nordman via Flickr

Why China Will Never Rule The World. Travels in the two Chinas. Troy Parfitt.  2011. ISBN 9780986803505. Troy contacted me to look at his book.  He warned me that it was controversial and Amazon would publish it in Sept.   I enjoy a good travelogue like this one. He is a Canadian history teacher who taught for 10 years in Taiwan and is now back in Canada.  He is just a regular person like us all with no “hidden interests or agendas”.  The book was prompted by a growing disconnect he saw between his experiences in China and the “roaring noise” he heard in the media that China was on a roll, that this was their era and they were on their way to a global hegemony.  So he took a total of three months to travel through China and the Taiwan to “live” in  the two Chinas, talk to regular folks, and see if there was this groundswell.  He took the routes of the residents, eschewed the tourist trails and essentially went native, with the record button turned on.   The time was just before the ’08 Olympics.  This was an eye opening trip for him. He used his history background to link the past to the present and  the future.  It is an easy read, well written and annotated with a style that allows you, the reader to build your own opinions from the views that Troy brings back.

I do not want to spoil the book for you, but I now agree with Troy’s thesis – China can not “rule the world”. The countries behavior is too tied into past history ( they can never forgive a slight – eg America backing the S Koreans, despite pouring billions into China during WW II, and now supporting Taiwan. The other slights are the Europeans and Americans having the opium wars.) China will not  forgive and forget and then move forward.  Revenge for these and other events will eventually come.  The behavior of Chiang Kai Chek and Mao was driven more often by revenge than anythng else.

From this book I take away that:

  • China will never move to a democracy (Communism “fits” the Confucian culture. too well).
  • When the leaders feel they have the US in a tight situation (Eg Move to sell their US bonds, or cripple their IT) they will move against Taiwan, even tho’ very few Taiwanese wish it.
  • Hong Kong will slowly lose the freedoms they have now and will never get the vote ( When I was over there I heard over and over again that the plan was for Shanghai to eclipse Hong Kong as a financial centre).
  • The “media” in China present the opposite of the truth until it becomes a “cultural truth”
  • The educational system predicates against graduating students who can think for themselves, putting them well behind “western ” abilities
  • The emerging wealthy  middle class will not give power to the 800 million poverty stricken peasants, preferring to transfer wealth to Western investments
  • The West will continue to mess up in dealing with this country, since they will never understand the basis of Chinese decisions. The West will be played like a harmonica (Like they are being played in Pakistan)
  • Religious freedom will never come to the country, persecution will continue
  • Copyright protection will not take place in China, they are too good at copying everything.
  • It will continue to be one of the most polluted countries ever and a growing global contributor.
  • The concept of losing face is mostly a ploy to ensure that the country is not called out for its blatant acts.
  • The leadership will continue to take advantage of the Chinese people. Corruption will always be there.
  • We should watch to see what plays out in Africa with the heavy Chinese investment.

I liked it and suggest this is a good one for the “skeptical” reader. You can see how the the authors becomes quite emotional in his  responses through the description of his initial openness and the resulting experiences. I particularly enjoyed his use of  Orwell’s 1984 commentary.

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