Sunday, 9 June
|China Manned Space Program|
Did you see the picture of President Obama greeting the Chinese leader Xi Friday at the Annenberg estate in Rancho Mirage, California? They both wore dark blue jackets with white shirts open at the collar. The two day summit was described as “constructive”, which in diplomatic terms means the two men exchanged differing views. This is as would be expected. Both the United States and China are powerful, economic competitors and have contrasting political governing philosophies. What is important is for the two nations to build a relationship that encourages a respectful dialogue and enables the two governments to work together where there is common ground. The alternative to diplomacy is a world of constant tension, with China and the U.S. constantly exchanging charges and counter-charges in the press in an atmosphere of suspicion and open hostility, much like what existed between America and the Soviet Union over the course of the Cold War. We do not want to repeat the madness of two nuclear-armed militaries facing off with their fingers on the trigger.
China grew from what was essentially a rural, developing nation to that of the world’s second largest economy with remarkable speed once their Communist leader, Mao Zedong, died. He had lead a largely peasant army in the overthrow of a pro-Western leader, Chiang Kai-Shek, in 1949. Chiang’s legacy continues today with a separate Chinese government remaining in power on the island of Taiwan. Continued United States support of Taiwan is one of the many points of friction mainland China has with the government in Washington. It can be argued that disagreements between our two nations have more to do with competing national interests than with conflicting political ideology. Many economists anticipate China to overtake the U.S. as the world’s economic powerhouse during the course of this century. The resulting repercussions would go beyond economics and would reduce this nation’s global political influence. In fact, this is already occurring. While the United States government struggles with containing its deficit budget, China is investing vast sums of money in building a global infrastructure that will assure it access to resources needed to fuel its economic growth. Uncle Sam no longer carries the fat wallet that once opened doors.
Germany is the economic powerhouse that dominates Europe. Until recently the same could be said of Japan’s relationship with Asia. In the previous century both nations brought devastation to their societies by choosing military aggression as their means of achieving what they have peacefully attained today. Their leaders had not the wisdom to realize faith in one’s ideas and the resourcefulness of their people can alone overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to their goals. It is important that the leaders of the United States also appreciate this fact. Competition between nations, between cultures and between ideals is never fully resolved among the people viewing the world stage. The Cold War ended with a clear decision as to which societal approach to governance had greater merit. That struggle ended more than twenty years ago. The world has moved on. An entirely new generation has come of age. We have reinvented ourselves technologically into an era that would have seemed science fiction to those who witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall. That is the nature of progress. That is the nature of human kind. We continually take on new challenges and we don’t slow down for anyone. I tell myself, "Get used to it."