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Chinese dream

Published on May 17, 2012 by: in: Politics

American dream is based on the assumption that any rogue with a little ingenuity and a holy pile of luck can become a millionaire. Chinese dream (in the West) means that you don’t have to be a millionaire to live like one.

Celebrated by the Prime Minister Tusk “strategic partnership” between Poland and China must raise a smile of pity. Leaving aside the scope of cooperation (bigger Chinese investments are located in much smaller Hungary) the enormity and potential of both countries are incomparable.

We could develop our “strategic partnership” equally well with Costa Rica, so adored by Doda[1]. But the visit of Wen Jiabao, the Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of China, calls for reflection not only about the future of the role of China in the world and Europe, but also about the nature of Chinese political and economic expansion. The Chinese know that money rules the world, a man from the West in particular. And they use this knowledge ruthlessly. Portugal or Holland used to spread their political and economic influences through trading posts. If it wasn’t for the Second Opium War, the Chinese wouldn’t open their harbors for trade with Great Britain and France. In today’s world of global fund the Chinese enter the Western world when everything is set. They use the infrastructure, which for years served to strengthen the center by exploitation of periphery (often, but not always the exploitation was followed by civilizational progress), free sailing, which is guaranteed by the global rival: the United States and commercial treaties created in the name of rules strange to the traditionally closed Middle Kingdom. China fit perfectly in the world to whose creation it did not contribute. What is more, the world from which it tried to ineffectively isolate itself for so many years. This tactics didn’t pay off. Although China didn’t become a colony, it was a victim of many games played by powers of Great Britain, France, Japan and Russia, what for a proud country for which foreigners are synonymous to barbarians was humiliating for sure. In the world of empires, where geopolitical business dominated over economic one, China perhaps would not be allowed to develop to such an extent like today. But today the lord and master is money, unlimited consumption, markets – here China wins due to its demography.

picture: Rene Mensen

The Soviet Union used to catch up with the delays regarding the West by extensive industrialization irrespective of human and economic costs, which for years caused shivers of terror among American and European Kremlinologists announcing the lead of Moscow in the Cold War race. The Chinese have drawn conclusions from rise and fall of the communist “older brother”. Authoritarianism is useful for forcing projects, which eliminate the advantage gained for years by others – the Chinese authorities engage the whole country in the cheaper and more effective export, reducing the internal consumption, accumulating capital, devaluating RMB, that is yuan. If it wasn’t for a strict authoritarian system the revolt (in comparison to which the Boxer rebellion is a piece of cake) would have been incited a long time ago. At the same time, China has abandoned the inefficient command economy system while keeping the control over the key sectors of the economy, land or banking sector. Any form of not only oppositional activity, but also the one independent of the power, is violently suppressed (student protests in 1989, Falun Gong ten years later, protests of Tibetans before the Beijing Olympics in 2008). Gorbachev is an antimaster of the Chinese political thought, any loosening of the screws can finish like in the Soviet Union, this is in a big and sudden decomposition. And China, although it makes an impression of very homogenous, in fact it is a cluster of many different cultures, dominated by the Han people. Fear of the return of  the 3rd century war of Three Kingdoms, as a consequence of which the divided China became a victim of conquest by despised nomads, must be deeply rooted in the Chinese ruling elite.

American dream is based on the assumption that any rogue with a little ingenuity and a holy pile of luck can become a millionaire. Chinese dream (in the West) means that you don’t have to be a millionaire to live like one. Anyway, it is very easy to get the impression of such a life – unfortunately another members of the middle class get the impression too, which spoils the pleasure of possessing a new “necessary” gadget and means the necessity to buy another one. It is the mechanism well known by drug dealers, give them some and they will come back for more.

Translation: Kamila Kwiecień

[1] Polish pop singer.

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About Leszek Jażdżewski

Politologist, publicist, regular political commentator in Polish media. Editor in chief of “Liberté!”, Polish liberal socio-political journal. Studied international relations in University of Lodz, Institute of Political Studies on Polish Academy of Sciences, Glamorgan University in UK and Tbilisi University in Georgia. Vice-president of Liberal Forum, member of the council of Projekt: Polska Foundation, secretary of the board of Transport Integration Society, vice-president of Industrial Foundation. Coauthor of books: “Liberal reflections on life chances and social mobility in Europe” and “Democracy in Europe. Of the People, by the People, for the People?”

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