The Cold War as a system of states ended on a cold and gray December day in Moscow in 1991, when Mikhail Gorbachev signed the Soviet Union out of existence. Communism itself, in its Marxist-Leninist form, had ceased to exist as a practical ideal for how to organize society.
“If I had to do it over again, I would not even be a Communist,” Bulgaria’s deposed Communist leader, Todor Zhivkov, had said the year before. “And if Lenin were alive today, he would say the same thing. I must now admit that we started from the wrong basis, from the wrong premise.… Seguir leyendo »
For a long time China has prided itself on the gradual improvement and solidification of its relations with the countries of the Assn. of Southeast Asian Nations, mainly through economic means. Since Deng Xiaoping in the 1970s, Chinese leaders have emphasized the significance of shedding decades, if not centuries, of mistrust and confrontation and moving toward cooperation and integration. The China-ASEAN free-trade zone, which came into effect four years ago, was intended to be the symbol of this new relationship.
Over the last five years or so, however, many of the most promising aspects of this cooperation have come into doubt.… Seguir leyendo »
China’s more assertive foreign policy over the last two years has played a key role in getting two arch-conservatives — Japan’s Shinzo Abe and South Korea’s Park Geun-hye — elected to lead their respective countries. Some Chinese observers believe that Abe and Park will be forced by China’s inexorable rise to come to terms with their giant neighbor. Don’t count on it. To much of its region, China’s behavior as it is coming of age as a modern superpower is eerily reminiscent of its past policy as a regional hegemon.
For a very long time, imperial China dominated its wider region.… Seguir leyendo »
There are few economies and societies on earth more complementary than China’s and Japan’s. The Chinese are relatively young, poor and restless and fiercely committed to economic growth. The Japanese are relatively old and sated, but technologically advanced and devoted to guarding their high standard of living. Proximity would seem to make the two nations ideally suited to benefit from each other.
But Japan is afraid of China’s rise, because the Chinese economy is so much more dynamic than Japan’s. And China is troubled by Japan, because the island nation seems to act as an unsinkable American aircraft carrier just off its coast.… Seguir leyendo »
When he takes over as party leader this week at the 18th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, Vice President Xi Jinping will face a host of ills. For all its newfound wealth, China is — to put it simply — very badly governed.
Corruption is rampant, the provinces are neglected, and current party leader Hu Jintao has put off much-needed political reforms for a decade.
To make changes at home easier to push through, Xi, who is expected to become president next year, may be tempted to pursue a populist foreign policy. Xi has already positioned himself in line with the nationalist instincts of many younger Chinese on a number of foreign matters.… Seguir leyendo »