Saturday, December 9, 2006
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Lincoln with Chinese characteristics
Three years ago, I wrote the following:
As a regional actor in Asia, Beijing can not and should not be ignored. As a global actor, its profile remains relatively small, even compared with the Unitred States a century ago.Today, the
New York Times has a front-pager by Joseph Kahn demonstrating that a lot has happened since then:
In the past several weeks China Central Television has broadcast a 12-part series describing the reasons nine nations rose to become great powers. The series was based on research by a team of elite Chinese historians, who also briefed the ruling Politburo about their findings.Kahn reviews the documentary series [Hey, PBS, how about purchasing its rights and broadcasting a version with subtitles here in the states?!--ed.]. This part stands out: "In the 90 minutes devoted to examining the rise of the United States, Lincoln is accorded a prominent part for his efforts to “preserve national unity” during the Civil War. China has made reunification with Taiwan a top national priority."
It will be interesting to see how and when China translates its growing economic power into ideational power. This, intriguingly, is (kind of) the topic of Jeffrey Garten's op-ed in the NYT about higher education in Asia:
At a summit meeting of leaders next week in the Philippines, senior officials from India, Singapore, Japan and perhaps other countries are scheduled to discuss the revival of an ancient university in India called Nalanda. It is a topic unlikely to receive much mention in the Western press. But no one should underestimate the potential benefits of this project to Asia, or the influence it could have on Asia’s role in the world, or the revolutionary impact it could make on global higher education....I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that Garten is focused too much on regional initiaties and not enough on national ones -- but this seems like enough to chew on for the weekend.
posted by Dan on 12.09.06 at 09:08 AM
The official policy of the United States government, reflected in budget outlays and the time devoted to foreign affairs by senior government officials, is that the rise of China and the future of the region of south and east Asia are far less important than the future of one, mid-sized Arab country.
And that's where we are in mid-December, 2006. Whatever happens in Asia, or Europe and Latin America for that matter, the United States will have to observe. Having made the commitment in Iraq, and having been unwilling to assign any limit to the time that commitment will be maintained, the Bush administration has ensured that observing is about all we'll be able to do.posted by: Zathras on 12.09.06 at 09:08 AM [permalink]
The Bush administration decided that the Arab issue could be settled easily. A quick war, then democracy. It was a huge bet -- if it works, then on to other challenges, including China; if it doesn't, the world's up for grabs.
The 2006 world-according-to-Bush should be one in which democracy progresses unbounded in the Arab world and a new, if different, "cold war" confronts the rest of the non-democratic world. Those old curmudgeons North Korea and Iran would be dealt with in turn, then on to that pesky China.
Alas, no. Perhaps we needed a conservative president.
"Unitred States" Funny.posted by: Andrew Steele on 12.09.06 at 09:08 AM [permalink]
The pivotal strategic relationship of the 21st century will be between the US and China, with India gaining importance as the century ages. I worry about how little we are preparing today's students to deal with these relationships. Our educational system obsesses about math tests scores and graduation requirements while giving scant attention to the foreign language proficiencies of our students. Does any state have even one percent of it high school graduates with two years or more of Hindi? Or five percent with two years or more of Mandarin? Does any state or local district have a program which sends a significant number of students to China or India to study? Not only are we throwing money away in the wrong part of the world (the Middle East), we are throwing it away on the wrong activity (the military instead of education). The 21st century will not be kind to us unless we wake up and change our priorities.posted by: Dave Porter on 12.09.06 at 09:08 AM [permalink]
Good discussion of this series/issue at the China Law Blog on December 5.posted by: Jason on 12.09.06 at 09:08 AM [permalink]
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