East and West

How Can We Prevent The USA From Declining Too Quickly?

Chinese academics discuss a framework for managing the waning of American power.

How Can We Prevent The USA From Declining Too Quickly?

The Western world is abuzz with talk of managing China’s rise. How can China be ‘moulded,’ ‘socialized’ or ‘coerced’ into becoming like us? How can we make it safe for a world of multilateral institutions, democracy and the rule of law? These questions, which diplomats and statesmen compulsively debate, are designed to reassure; to make us all believe that China’s development is ours to shape. By framing the problem in this way, we can talk ourselves into thinking that, with skill and consideration, a new China can be built in our own image. But few Westerners realize that their anguish about China’s rise has its mirror image in Beijing. A debate is stirring among Chinese scholars and officials about how to manage the West’s decline; how, they are asking, can they best shape the behaviour of Western powers to advance Chinese interests and values?

This controversy burst into the open in 2006 with a provocative newspaper article by Wang Yiwei, a young scholar at Fudan University, who asked, ‘How can we prevent the USA from declining too quickly?’ Wang Yiwei’s question generated heated responses from neocons and liberal internationalists alike. One of Wang Yiwei’s colleagues at Fudan University, Shen Dingli, has framed the challenge even more sharply: ‘have people asked themselves what would happen to the world if America declined?’ he asked. Could China, Russia, the EU, Germany or Japan deliver public goods as America can, or build international political or economic institutions?’ For Shen Dingli, who believes that Beijing is not yet ready for prime-time, the goal should be to ‘shape an America that is more constrained and more willing to co-operate with the world’. China should use a mix of engagement and containment to shape the USA so that it becomes a responsible power: which, of course, is the exact mirror image of the US approach to China.

What these debates show is that China’s rise will not be a mechanical process that can be delicately ‘managed’ by Western policy-makers. China will actively try to ‘manage’ the West even as it attempts to manipulate Chinese behaviour.

 

20 comments on the article “How Can We Prevent The USA From Declining Too Quickly?”

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Anonymous

That is one of the topics i have been bringing up for years and now finnally my favorite mag. brings the subject up and its less than a page long!
Kalle where are you??

Anonymous

That is one of the topics i have been bringing up for years and now finnally my favorite mag. brings the subject up and its less than a page long!
Kalle where are you??

Anonymous

the Chinese article was written in 2006 and you could only come up with 2.5 paragraphs? what is the point of this article? you've made an interesting opening statement, now back it up. how about some analysis? what's being said at these debates? what are the implications? there's less info here than a wikipedia article.

Anonymous

the Chinese article was written in 2006 and you could only come up with 2.5 paragraphs? what is the point of this article? you've made an interesting opening statement, now back it up. how about some analysis? what's being said at these debates? what are the implications? there's less info here than a wikipedia article.

Ben Ellis

Interesting article, though as everyone has commented so far, too short to satisfy.

China wonders how to slow America's decline as America wonders how to slow China's rise. It reminds me of another duality: U.S. politicians accusing the Chinese of aggravating the trade gap by keeping the yuan artificially low while (apparently) some Chinese believe that they were lured into buying U.S. securities before they plunged.

The real deal, in my opinion, is that the Chinese want to keep the employment gains they've seen with the growth of their export market, need to do something with the dollars used to buy their goods, and know that their use of those dollars can exert significant pressure on the value of the dollar. They could have demanded that importers buy yuan with dollars and pay them in their own currency, but that would've caused exchange rates to move much faster and made imports not so cheap, threatening their export market. They instead bought dollar-denominated securities because they looked attractive (America may have been an all-time winner at making attractive-looking investment opportunities) but it also served their purposes in that other uses might have diminished the value of the dollar.

I feel little comment is needed on the American side, as it goes without saying that there are no politicians who would stand by a weak-dollar policy. I wonder whether the flight of manufacturing industries from the U.S. might not be due to the strength of the dollar-- as the wage of one laborer in the U.S. can pay the wages of multiple laborers elsewhere; I.T. outsourcing is an example.

I blame it on the fact that everyone has a sinking feeling that the dollar is overvalued, but no one who holds the monetary levers of power can reap any net benefits from defecting.

(for details about the "lured into buying U.S. securities" theory, see "Currency War" on pg. 2 of following article; whole article is generally relevant) http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/05/business/worldbusiness/05yuan.html

Ben Ellis

Interesting article, though as everyone has commented so far, too short to satisfy.

China wonders how to slow America's decline as America wonders how to slow China's rise. It reminds me of another duality: U.S. politicians accusing the Chinese of aggravating the trade gap by keeping the yuan artificially low while (apparently) some Chinese believe that they were lured into buying U.S. securities before they plunged.

The real deal, in my opinion, is that the Chinese want to keep the employment gains they've seen with the growth of their export market, need to do something with the dollars used to buy their goods, and know that their use of those dollars can exert significant pressure on the value of the dollar. They could have demanded that importers buy yuan with dollars and pay them in their own currency, but that would've caused exchange rates to move much faster and made imports not so cheap, threatening their export market. They instead bought dollar-denominated securities because they looked attractive (America may have been an all-time winner at making attractive-looking investment opportunities) but it also served their purposes in that other uses might have diminished the value of the dollar.

I feel little comment is needed on the American side, as it goes without saying that there are no politicians who would stand by a weak-dollar policy. I wonder whether the flight of manufacturing industries from the U.S. might not be due to the strength of the dollar-- as the wage of one laborer in the U.S. can pay the wages of multiple laborers elsewhere; I.T. outsourcing is an example.

I blame it on the fact that everyone has a sinking feeling that the dollar is overvalued, but no one who holds the monetary levers of power can reap any net benefits from defecting.

(for details about the "lured into buying U.S. securities" theory, see "Currency War" on pg. 2 of following article; whole article is generally relevant) http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/05/business/worldbusiness/05yuan.html

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