Sunday, February 19, 2006

Sibling Rivalry

If you have siblings, you'll know what I'm talking about here. When you're little you take opportunities to just poke at your siblings (or even your parents). You know, the opportunities are rare, so you have to exploit them: any time in the car; sitting someplace (like church), those moments when neither mom nor dad are in the room.

That's exactly what is happening between the world's two largest (and poorest behaved) children: China and the U.S. Yes, I said China was nearly as poorly behaved as the U.S. Because when it comes to trade, the behavior from the middle kingdom is more befitting a 5 year old than a 5,000 year old. And the U.S? An older sibling coming to grips wiht the fact that it isn't the only child anymore.

Not sure what I'm talking about? The BBC has a story about the latest poke--this time by the U.S. The way the U.S. acts is also like the older sibling who just doesn't manage to figure out that the other child is poking just to see the reaction.

Of course China is going to pursue a policy of maximizing their own benefits and trying to foist the burdens on the rest of the world. Each country plays that game the same. The difference is that China is doing it much better than everyone else--because no one else (the U.S. leading the way) has figured out a way to push China from the offensive in their policy-plays to the defensive.

It is ironic, at least to me, that Europe and the U.S. both used to being front and center on the world stage--and have been for at least a century each--are letting the relative upstart China, call all the shots. I'm not ignoring China's 5,000 year history, but I'm also cognicent of the fact that until for forty of the past seventy years, China's policy towards the world was basically, outside bad, China good. So the fact that they have figured out how to pull all the right strings in the international arena at all the right times--absolutely mind boggling. Especially since they can only have learned so fast if the rest of the world has learned approximately nothing.

1 comment:

ramblingbarrister said...

Seems to make no sense at all for the U.S. to make trade sanctions with China. Nobody in the EU would be stupid enough to go along with it, meaning the EU and China would benefit while the US loses ground.

Kinda like how you can buy Cuban cigars elsewhere...but not here.....