Here it comes: The Chinese Century

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By Rick Howell

I hope no one is losing too much sleep over whether the young leader of North Korea is going to attack us, or even South Korea, any time soon.
    Despite the big noises made by Kim Jong-Un, the world’s diplomatic players have seen this movie before.
    Whether it’s been this Kim, the newest and smallest one (I’ve never liked those “small man syndrome” theories, but he makes you wonder), or the ones before him, these tough guy attitudes are usually solved with some more food aid from the UN or more money from China.
    Secretary of State John Kerry has handled it well, telling Kim and the world that any attack on South Korea or anyone else would be a mistake. Kerry was just in China to relay that message again.
    China has had to read the riot act to the Kims before, and it’s probably doing the same thing now.
    After all, China is the emerging world power that will one day eclipse the United States and Europe both economically and militarily. Let it solve this problem.
    Long before the 21st century is over, it will be known as “The Chinese Century.” American politicians aren’t going to tell us that, be they Democrats or Republicans. But serious students of history, economics and current affairs, in general, can see it coming.
    This is a nation that has emerged from primitive superstition, extreme poverty, and isolation to one experiencing a dramatic economic growth.
    Naturally, the Chinese had to turn to business investments – in short, capitalism, - to get to a place economically where they are not only feeding their own huge population but educating them, too.
    Yes, it’s still the “People’s Republic of China,” supposedly devoted to communism. But if you see any communism in China today, you’re dreaming. It’s a vibrant, capitalist economic engine that’s about to rise to the top of the world.
    You won’t see any more “cultural revolutions” in China. Today, they are producing and encouraging the very kinds of people that Mao had imprisoned and killed from 1966 to 1976.
    If Richard  Nixon were still alive, he’d say: “See, I was right!!” And he’d be entitled to say it. Nixon knew, even in the early 1970s when the Cold War was still raging, that the United States would be stupid not to seek friendly relations with a nation that, sooner or later, would come out of its shell and be a major world player.
    And yet, politically, China is a one-party state, operating as a police state when it comes to the regulation of political freedoms. That’s regrettable, but also likely to change, slowly but surely, in the future.
    Americans have such a hard time judging political developments in other countries, because most insist on viewing everything from a purely American perspective. This habit is always useless, and especially so in the case of a society as complex as China.
    Life itself began in Mesopotamia and along the Yangtze River in China; China has always been there, long before anyone had ever heard of us.
    So, what should our reaction be to the rise of the Chinese? Well, nothing. Except to have the good sense to be their friends, and to happily accept the fact that our time has passed.
    We need to free ourselves of the burdens of empire. We can’t afford to be the “world policeman” anymore, anyway.
    Maybe the Chinese will have better judgment than we ever showed in places like Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, just to name a  few.
    Remember when it was said that “Only Nixon could go to China?” In the future, every American president will visit China, and with his hat in his hand, most likely.

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Rick Howell, a Bedford native, can be reached by e-mail at RickDem117@gmail.com.