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May 26, 2008 | by  | in Features | [ssba]

New World Order

In 2003, China, India, Brazil and South Africa led a walkout of developing nations from the WTO’s Cancun talks, in protest at the developed world’s trade-distorting agricultural subsidies. Pissed off at having the global economy dictated to them by the West, the Rest finally decided they don’t want to take our shit lying down anymore. Is this a sign of the new world order raising its head and finally escaping the rule of the west?

Our current global institutions – the UN, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the G8 – were set up following World War Two, and are structured in such a way that the Western victors of this war still contain a stranglehold on political power sixty years down the track. But with the economic rise of the developing world, especially China, this situation is unsustainable. With the USA – our world’s sole reigning hyperpower – at an historical public relations low-point due to its abysmal handling of Iraq, it looks like their unilateral leadership is dissolving. Newsweek’s Fareed Zakaria recently pointed out that this shift in power is good not only for the rising powers, but for the USA itself. China was considered a danger back when it was poor, unstable and closed. Now that it can challenge the economic superiority of the USA, it has become an ally rather than a threat. A more equitable power spread may encourage greater multilateral competition. And certainly, the economic rise of the developing world puts paid to fears that capitalism would only benefit the West. Billions may still live in poverty, but at least the global elite is now spread out about the entire globe, encompassing all sects and skin tones. This is the new world order, and China is the leader of the wolf pack.

The Middle Kingdom

The supremacy of the West is descending into nadir and China is following the ecliptic to its zenith. For centuries China was the global high point for civilisation. Booming commerce, amazing technology and developed social structures that all helped propel Western interest and then investment in the Orient. China is a land of contradiction, but inherent in this contradiction we find harmony.

Cast your glance back to circa 550 BC, two of the greatest thinkers to walk this earth, Confucius (孔丘) and Sun Tzu (孫子), were born. They wrote some of the seminal texts which Chinese civilisation is based on. Confucius’s principles are still widely known and abided by. Confucian philosophical ideas of order, meritocracy, loyalty to the family, humanity and ideas of how Jūnzǐ (君子, nobleman) should act are still apparent in the People’s Republic of China constitution and policy. Sun Tzu’s (孫子) seminal text, The Art of War, was read by Mao Zedong, Napoleon and is now regularly used as a management text. It was widely used by the communists during the Civil War to great effect against the Kuomintang.

After the Revolution Mao Zedong eventually through bloody machinations became the leader of PRC. He was responsible for tens of millions of deaths during his reign. Eerie power plays within the Communist Party led to Mao playing games with people on his own side. Mao’s truly sadistic side was shown with his actions against Zhou Enlai, who he refused permission to be treated for bladder cancer. Although he was a calculating killer, he had another side. He was also a poet, a calligrapher, and loved to swim and take long walks in nature. One of the most interesting facets of Mao was his love of reading. He would read any book he could get his hands on and even had special glasses made so that he could read in bed. What makes this interesting is that most of the books he had in his extensive library were books that he had banned.

The Economic Kingdom’s Snore

With an average annual GDP growth of 10 per cent, China has been the world’s fastest growing nation for twenty-five years – ever since the vicious Cultural Revolution concluded and Deng Xiaoping began China’s gradual process of economic decentralisation. China’s meat consumption has also doubled over this period. The People’s Republic now has the second largest economy in the world, behind the USA, with a GDP of US$7 trillion (measured according to purchasing power parity). In January 2006 China overtook the U.S. to become the world’s largest exporter of information- and communications-technology goods, and the CCP now holds reserves of US$1 trillion.

The Militant Kingdom’s Roar

Just like their economy China has a massive military and military industrial complex. They currently have a standing army of just over 2.3 million soldiers with over 1.2 million in reserve. The Navy and Air Force have about 250,000 personnel each. They build all their own weapons from small arms like the AK-47 to intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of delivering a nuclear payload. They have shitloads of landmines and have refused to sign international treaties to limit the production and distribution of small arms and landmines.

After the recent earthquake the Peoples’ Liberation Army (PLA) had 50,000 troops in the region helping out the locals with medical needs, distributing aid, search and rescue and rebuilding. Compare this effort to the efforts of the US government in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Also there are currently PLA troops involved in peacekeeping missions in Liberia, Sudan, Cote d’Ivoire and they have in the past sent people to Bosnia, East Timor and other hot spots around the world.

A lot of what China does with its international relations is based on the concept of Lian 脸, face, or mana. It is about trying to avoid conflict by reaching an outcome that is advantageous to all of those involved, it is about respect, and the confidence that society and peers have in an individual. It is about perception, so polite lies are often acceptable if they disguise the fact that you’re being mean or impolite. This is why the Chinese Foreign Ministry took such offence at the remarks of CNN’s Jack Cafferty when he called them a bunch of “goons and thugs.” The simple act of haggling in a market can be an experience of this concept. If you insult the seller by offering a low price to start off with they’re less inclined to give it to you for a cheaper price. They’ll cajole and flatter you, and both of you know in the end that you come away with something that is good for both parties.

The Celestial Kingdom takes to the stars

China has quite a developed space program, which could be seen in two lights: a strategic light or a harmonious light. Sun Tzu wrote that by far the most desirable terrain in any engagement was the higher ground and by far the highest ground is space. In October 2006 China blew up one of their aging communications satellites with a ground based missile, the first country to do so. Satellites play an increasing role in surveillance and international communication. Knock ‘em down and you hamstring your enemy.

In a white paper in 2006 the Information Office of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China made clear that they had the objective of eventually gaining deep space exploration capacity as well as a construction of a lunar base and research into the possible military applications of low orbit and lunar based technologies.

However in the same paper it shows China’s dedication to “to utilize outer space for peaceful purposes, promote human civilization and social progress, and benefit the whole of mankind.” This is evident in the proposal of a new treaty by Moscow and Beijing. The current treaty only stops weapons of mass destruction being deployed in orbit, but nothing about conventional weapons. Unsurprisingly the Americans didn’t want to have anything to do with the treaty talks. The US has also ardently opposed the PRC being able to join the International Space Station project, but have not given any specific reasons for the refusal.

In the same program we have the PLA administering most of the Chinese space program but we also have the civilian Chinese National Space Agency (CNSA) interwoven with the operations. Once again an inherent contradiction in the way China conducts its international relations. But one that has a balancing effect and brings harmony to the fine balance of international power.

A Kingdom of Germs

They say when China sneezes the whole world catches a cold. This is ever more apparent in an increasingly globalised world. The outbreak of SARS in Guangdong province in 2002, Avian flu in 2004, the spread of HIV/AIDs since 2003, and earlier this month the Ministry of Health issued a circular to remind people to “report outbreaks of plague, cholera, hepatitis A, typhoid, diarrhoea, pneumonia, malaria and meningitis” so they can isolate populations in preparation for the Olympics. There is currently an epidemic of hand-foot-mouth disease, which at the time of writing has claimed 71 lives, primarily children.

The sheer mass of humans packed into urban areas makes close contact with people inevitable, and the spread of disease is a major issue facing China. The World Health Organisation has long criticised China for allowing some antibiotics to be available over the counter. Moves have been made by Beijing to limit the flow, but like the widespread availability of copyright infringing material it has just forced the trade of antibiotics underground.

Yet at the same time China has a reasonably high life expectancy of 71 for males, 74 for female, and only 127 people out of 1000 die between 15 and 60. The PRC spends 4.7% of their massive GDP on health. Compared to Russia and India this is quite high. India has a life expectancy of m/f: 62/64 with 5% of GDP spent on health. Russia has a life expectancy of m/f:59/72 with 6% spent on health. Then compare this to the USA: life expectancy is m/f: 75/80 while they spend a massive 15.4% of GDP on health and New Zealand is m/f: 77/82 and we spend 8.4% of GDP on health.

Saying Hi to the Neighbours

Mainland China is now reaching out to Taiwan, their long time rival for political legitimacy, to cement the closer intertwining of economic ties. At the same time Beijing is alienating Tibet. Both conflicts can be seen as civil disputes and question sovereignty.

Until 1992 Beijing’s response to Taipei was to ignore and pretend that Taiwan was still ruled from the National Peoples’ Congress in Tiananmen Square. Now they’ve come to the harmonious idea of ‘one China, two systems’ and have let the economic ties increase and blur the lines between the Republic of China ROC and the PRC. Citizens of both territories are able to visit the other side of the channel, and tensions are easing.

The direct opposite has recently happened in Tibet. Tensions over PRC sovereignty in the region have come to a climax with protests mounting and a crack down on visitors to the area. For years the PRC has been sending Han Chinese to Tibet to subdue local populations, which has created outrage among Tibetans that they are being demographically swamped.

New Zealand has often looked to China for inspiration. In 1916 Rewi Alley met some Chinese labourers in France, and in 1927 he moved to Shanghai, and became a ‘friend of the Revolution’ and espoused communism in New Zealand and worldwide. In 1972 Norman Kirk was one of the first Western leaders to recognise the PRC. A New Zealand University Students Association headed off to China to learn from the Revolution in 1973.

We have also been reviled their human rights excesses. New Zealand was among the first countries to condemn the actions of the PLA in Tiananmen Square on June 1989. When the massive excesses of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution came to light many New Zealanders condemned the pointless loss of human life.

Moral of the story? Harmony. There is a nexus between the dark side and the light side of China. A balancing act that pits the good aspects of Chinese civilisation against the bad, and the underlying point of Confucian thinking is to bring order to this anarchic balance so that the good outshines the bad. China takes both in their stride, get on with it and everyone benefits. As the West declines and the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) ascend we should be looking towards ideas like this to ease the transition, so that we can save face, and even benefit from the rise of the East.

In 1980 the words Eric Idle sang still ring true:
“I like Chinese,
I like Chinese,
There’s nine hundred million of them in the world today,
You’d better learn to like them, that’s what I say…
I like Chinese thought,
The wisdom that Confucius taught,
If Darwin is anything to shout about,
The Chinese will survive us all without any doubt.”

By Jackson Wood

The History of Latin America

The history of Latin American society hitherto is a history of invasion and ‘intervention’, of European and American interests overwhelming local autonomy and regional solidarity. This is hardly a secret. Conversations about the various historical CIA coups that have ‘secretly’ overthrown popular governments in South America seem now, almost banal. Until recently, it would not have been pessimistic to assume many states within the region would remain impoverished for decades to come.

But the times they are a-changing. It is safe to say that many of the vastly populated countries of the Americas are on their way to a future of more secure sovereignty. This can be broadly defined in economic, cultural and political terms.

Resistance to American hegemony in the region is spearheaded by the fruity firebrand Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela and proponent of a new Bolivarianism. To many, Chavez epitomises the new role of Latin America in the world. His wily ability for political survival has perpetuated his image as a new radical, not to mention his imminent oil deal with China. The dragon is reportedly preparing to sign a new petroleum deal with Venezuela, pledging to invest $2 billion in Venezuela’s oil industry. This abundant natural resource is pretty fundamental to Venezuela’s economic sway – without this quite literal power, Chavez’s populist regime would be all bark and no bite.

Brazil is another set of teeth in this department, its recent upward surge in the words economic system providing a new shoot of Latin American greenery pushing through the toxic sludge of American imperialism. The Brazilian government recently projected its growth rate at 5%, a lower rate than the other BRIC nations of Russia, India and China, but still “impressive for a developing country” according to The Guardian. Foreign investment in Brazil is also blooming, inflation has been curbed from its previously outrageous levels, and, crucially, recent discoveries of huge oil reserves have led some to predict Brazil could be the new Saudi Arabia.

BUT, is ‘green’ the new black? Brazil is at the forefront of the drive for biofuels. The previous headache at its ‘glut’ of sugar production is now being into a viable export. And as a final challenge to various existing assumptions within Western thought, the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre recently won a United Nations prize as the world’s most habitable city, thanks to its programme of direct participation in municipal decisions on new investments.

Brazil represents the new face of Latin America’s economic resurgence, alongside a relatively moderate social democrat political climate. Argentina too has similarities as it claws its way back into financial legitimacy having overcome its crippling debts to the IMF and foreign investors.

Argentina’s President Cristina Kirchner and Bolivia’s Evo Morales have both cosied up to Chavez, providing a counterpoint to US influence in South America. Since his election in 2005, Morales has pushed for political reform and has fostered renewed indigenous participation in the Bolivian political system.

The significant paradigm division in Latin America has been emphasised during the recent diplomatic crisis, when Columbia’s (US backed) government breached Ecuador’s borders in its pursuit of the rebel group FARC, who have been waging guerrilla warfare against Columbia for many years. Both Venezuela and Ecuador reacted furiously to this border breach, and despite US support Columbia was forced to back down. A minor incident, perhaps. But it is clear the balance of power within the region is shifting. The tension between radical, populist regimes and the emerging economic strength of more conservative but populous countries in Latin America is likely to produce a diverse reaction to the historical marginalisation of this region.

By Tania Mead


On 18 April, the Indian Premier Cricket League opened to much fanfare and the controversy of cheerleaders (on loan from the Washington Redskins) in India. Featuring most of the great stars from international cricket – Ponting, Muralitharan, Tendukar, Vettori – the IPL has been cited as a lavish symbol of India’s success, as teams owned by Bollywood superstars Shah Rukh Khan and Preity Zinta battle teams owned by industrial billionaires. The highest player salary is $1.65 million (for India captain MS Dhoni), although each team currently has a $5 million cap to keep the competition level.

As we go to print, the competition leaders with eight wins from ten games are the Rajasthan Royals, coached and captained by Shane Warne. A rebel competitor to the Indian Premier League, the Indian Cricket League, recently wrapped up its second season, with the Chris Cairns captained Hyderabad Heroes victorious. The ICL’s owner, media mogul Subhash Chandra, is adored for reputedly purchasing the East India Company that dominated their country for so long.

Last year, India bought nearly US$18bn worth of Western companies, and already this year India’s Tata Steel has bought British hallmarks Jaguar and Land Rover. Tata has also unveiled the twenty-first century equivalent of the Volkswagen (people’s car): the Nano, which at a retail value of US$2500 is within reach of the growing Indian middle classes. India is home to the world’s largest movie industry, and the world’s biggest star, Shah Rukh Khan. Sixty years after independence and bloody partition, India has become a global power.

While India managed to skate the Cold War with an independent mix of state socialism and generally successful democratic elections, by the end of the 1980s the nation was beset by balance of payment problems. When P. V. Narasimha Rao was elected Prime Minister in 1991, he appointed former IMF economist Manmoha Singh Finance Minister to open up the economy. Singh reduced tariffs from an average of 85 per cent to around 25 per cent; India’s annual growth rate now sits at eight per cent, and Singh was elected Prime Minister in 2004. However, his reforms have opened up controversy over plans to privatise local water supplies, and the growing middle class hasn’t yet dented India’s massive poverty problems.

The seal on India’s rise to superpower status came in 1998 with the testing of a nuclear bomb. Of course Pakistan carried out a nuclear test in the same year, but its massive political divisions (as demonstrated in last year’s Red Mosque siege and this year’s assassination of Benazir Bhutto) prevent it from making any serious claim to global power. India’s shadow dominates neighbours Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. India, the world’s largest democracy, is no longer a recovering colony, but a true global superstar.

By Tristan Egarr

Rebuttal: The Unipolar World

The claim that Brazil, Russia, India and China are rising powers is one thing. To conclude based on that the United States is on the way out is quite another. The United States remains the global hegemon; the last remaining superpower.

For a start, the United States is far and away the world leader in military power. It has the ability to project power to any corner of the globe. The United States’ military machine is capable of overwhelming any power faster than any other hegemon throughout history. Any conflict is relevant to the nation it’s in, its regional neighbours, and the United States. It is at least arguable that in a conventional war, the United States vs the Rest of the World, the United States would win.

The United States economic dominance is beyond dispute. The US’ GDP is more than double that of its nearest rival, the People’s Republic of China, and is analogous to the sum of every European Union nation. The fluctuations on Wall Street have profound effects on every other economy in the world. The strength of any currency is inevitably compared with the US Dollar. In February, world economies dived wildly in anticipation of trouble on the US market. By simply reducing US interest rates, the international economy bounced back immediately. That’s powerful.

The United States is the most powerful nation politically. People listen to the States in a way they don’t listen to any other country. The US has a greater capacity to force concessions from other nations than any other. When the US takes a position on a global issue, all other nations take serious notice. It becomes the conservative norm that all other nations define their own stance with reference to. And if the US is opposed to something, even if the majority of the world is in favour, it’s not clear that the rest of the world is going to be going ahead with this after all.

And none of this is changing. China may be a rising power, but it is nowhere near challenging US supremacy. Not only is the US militarily, financially and politically superior, but it is accepted that the US is all of these things. It will take a serious US failure to deal with a crisis before serious questions can be asked about its continued hegemony. And the Iraq War is not enough.

By Matthew Proctor


About the Author ()

The editor of this fine rag for 2009.

Comments (20)

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  1. Kirsten says:

    This article is attached with a photo – a boy without clothes showing his dirty hands, like begging. I just don’t get it. How this photo related to the content that China is becoming a superpower in the world? Could you explain that for me? Moreover, the cover of salient this week is very insensitive. The leader of the Chinese government today, Hu JingTao and the chinese flag are both very respectful. I hope that the salient would be considerate and can understand the seriousness of this problem and apologize to the chinese students and the community a formally on next week salient.

  2. Salient says:

    “This article is attached with a photo – a boy without clothes showing his dirty hands, like begging. I just don’t get it. How this photo related to the content that China is becoming a superpower in the world? ”

    Please read the article, as it is actually about how awesome China is. If you don’t want to read it the main jist was that China has a lot of problems, but they’re getting better, and through their problems they’re morphing into a superpower.

    As for the cover:

    In the past 5 years we’ve had Pat Walsh, Jesus (twice), Helen Clark (twice), Don Brash (three times, once covered in faeces), the word cunt (twice), President Bush, Australia Justin Timberlake, and the phrase “America kills babies”.

    Within the pages of the magazine we’ve insulted: Mike Huckabee, Boris Johnson, Ken Livingston, penguins, Michael Laws, Kevin Rudd, Ritchie MaCaw, Helen Clark, John Key, Hillary Clinton, Communists, Christians, Smokers, Jackie Onassis, bands, our own writers, Angela Merkle, Tony Blair, and Hugo Chavez.

    We’ve had pictures of dildo’s, penises, vaginas. We use the words ‘cunt, fuck, shit, piss, diddle, manhole, Ecofascist’. We’ve published all the things Lindsay Perigo said. We had Star Wars porn, Wookie sex. We’ve even had a picture of Camilla Parker Bowls felating Prince Charles, Malfoy shoving a dildo in to Harry Potter’s mouth and other various celebrities sodomising each other.

    We’ve encouraged drug abuse, abuse of first year students, abuse of communists, abuse of homos, heteroes, bi’s, greens, gays, hermaphrodites, interspecies erotica fans, pretty much everyone under the sun.

    Maybe our new catch phrase should be: Salient, we insult people.

    If we haven’t insulted you, we don’t like you. So think of this as a big bear hug from all of us at Salient.

  3. I think you meant to write faeces, not faces..

    Maybe next week your cover should be of China, covered in faeces?

  4. Joel Cosgrove with his eyes taped back in black face raping Lady Liberty with a hammer and sickle superimposed over the lyrics of “Gimn Sovetskogo Soyuza” written in the blood of minority students…

    … during the fucking Te Reo issue.


  5. Big YIN says:

    Confucius said “Clever talk and pretentious manner are seldom compatible with the benevolent”

  6. el vikingo says:

    can you please send up some more of that latest issue to karori campus?
    some stupid a** pro-chinese chinese foundation students removed the lot with that nice picture of their president on the front page…

  7. Colin says:

    My advise, do not play western rule for China, they have their own style. EU is not only place on the earth!!!!!!!

  8. Nick Archer says:

    Your counter points taken Matt Proctor, but USA looking a lot like Rome at the moment (both pre Republic collapse i.e. Sulla, Pompey vs Caesar and second Triumvirate and Empire Collapse i.e. empire split and barbarian invasions). USA has always had to fight hard (revolution, civil war, etc…), but they are looking pretty sick at the moment with their debt and economic infrastructure in really bad shape.

    China and Russia aren’t going to sit back and wait for USA to get well again, they will take advantage of the situation when the opportunity opens up and make a grab for power themselves. Most recently Germany (WW I and II) and Russia tried (1917+ attempt to spread revolution to Germany and post 1945 with Iron Curtain), but USA succeeded then.

    Matt: “It will take a serious US failure to deal with a crisis before serious questions can be asked about its continued hegemony. And the Iraq War is not enough.”

    But this almost happened recently with the credit crunch and it will happen again as the Federal Reserve just put another band aid on the deep lying problems…

    America you crossed the Rubicon not long ago and there are barbarians (some hiding in caves in Afghanistan) at the gates…

  9. AC23 says:

    I’m actually a Chinese-American living in the US. I’ve stumbled onto your site after reading an article on a Chinese news site concerning your photo controversy “defaming” Hu Jintao. While I normally would not see a problem with the publishing of the image, I think your timing is a bit off. China is in a time of great tragedy right now and the entire nation is suffering. Any grieving Chinese would look at your publication as an insult to the wounded, regardless of whether or not your article is actually positive.

  10. SM says:

    I found you cover very offensive, and i’m sure there are many others out there who agree with me. A great national leader has been PSed by you into something that YOU might find funny but shows no respect to other people. You also disrespectfully PSed in a China’s flag, which i believe to be very inappropriate. And as AC23 said, currently many chinese are suffering from the Sichuan earth quake and you just try to humiliate the country and show no sympathy. Hence i believe you should officially apologize to all those you have offended and those who are still suffering.

  11. Jackson Wood pissed in a flag? Totally gross.

    Oh wait, photoshopped…

  12. Jackson Wood says:

    AC23 & SM if you had read the article by Conrad Reyners in last weeks edition expressing sympathy towards the victims of the earthquake then you would think differently. As has already been stated by Salient, you fail to look at the context of our publication. We are a student magazine, we push the boundaries of taste, don’t take us out of context. Would it be fair of us to place China on some pedestal that is above satire?

    As for the tenuous link to the victims of the earthquake I find you using their memories as a shield for criticism about China – which we were not even criticising – as about as flimsy as the defence that we shouldn’t argue against the Iraq war because of the memories of dead troops.

    We didn’t cause the earthquake by publishing this so why should we apologise for their suffering?

  13. Brunswick says:

    Jackson Wood, pissed, in a flag
    It’s true if you add two commas.

  14. AC23 says:


    By no means I was assuming you were criticizing China, and honestly I don’t give a damn if you were. I definitely was not using the tragedy to shield any criticisms. I’m not some nationalistic sino-crazed student who will attack anyone who says a wrong word about China. I, too, have been an outspoken critic of the Chinese government over the years in my own capacity.

    Thank you for referring Conrad’s article but this has nothing to do with the fact that you’ve published the photoshopped images with the Chinese flag and Hu Jintao at an inappropriate time. I know that this is taking it out of context, but most people will do so. Especially those who are currently in China.

    I’m simply saying that even though your intentions were benign, but the publication of photos can be easily mistaken for an intent to humiliate. I know you did not cause the sufferings of the earthquake victims. But people who were affected by it (some of the victims’ family might be in your vicinity) could be hurt even more if they had seen the image. And notice that I’m focusing on the image, not your article.

    p.s. Criticize the Iraq war all you want, we Americans do not look at the lost soldiers as a reason to refrain from criticizing the war, because they were killed based on a lie, on an empty promise, on the fake cause that Bush just made up. Each soldier killed over there is being treated as one more death by the hands of the Bush Administration. We support our troops, but we are against this unjust war.

  15. AC23 says:

    By the way, it was a well-written article, you covered the subject well from multiple angles.

  16. Jie says:

    Can users receive private messages from other people on this website? If it has, that will be cool.
    For salient, I agree to AC23. It is inappropriate to publish such photoshopped image at this ‘sensitive’ period. When I firstly saw the image, I would find it ‘funny’. You can actually scroll up and read some students’ commends “nice picture of their president”. I assume that the image is more like a joke to Chinese and Chinese flag. However, is it a proper timing to make a joke while so many people died from the earthquake and all the Chinese are suffering?
    But yeah, if salient feel nothing wrong with it, I would understand. You can keep making joke to anyone at any time. Make a joke to a country which is suffering 70,000+ deaths. People do not feel the pain if you never suffer it.

    P.s. for AC23, I would love to discuss more about Iraq War with you. But the thing is, how to contact you? This website apparently doesn’t have private messages service. =S

  17. Sean Broadley says:

    “In 2003, China, India, Brazil and South Africa led a walkout of developing nations from the WTO’s Cancun talks, in protest at the developed world’s trade-distorting agricultural subsidies”

    That’s overly simplistic.

    Agriculture was a part of it. Europeans and Americans were dragging their feet on agricultural reform. But only a small part.

    The Europeans and Americans wanted to force WTO members meet certain labour and environmental standards and to have a certain amount of transparency in govt procurement (ie less corruption) in return for free trade.

    The G-16 alliance (which you refer to as China, Brazil, India, etc) thought that forcing their nations to meet western labour conditions, etc was nothing to do with trade and was an unwarranted attack on their sovereignty.

    So the walkout was as much refusal by developing nations to go along with the “fair trade” concept that anti-globalization activists hold dear as it was a fight-back against our current international institutions of globalization.

  18. AC23 says:

    Well, Jie, I’d welcome any discussion over the Iraq war but as you said we definitely would not want to take up the space in the forum. Just click on my name to contact me, thx!

  19. Matthew_Cunningham says:

    This is a great article. To me, it highlights the multipolar direction in which the world is heading.

    I’ve long thought that the term ‘superpower’ is slowly being relegated to the world of yesterday. It was certainly valid in the years after World War Two, when the majority of the world’s nations were ravaged by war and were virtually impotent on the international stage – at least, on the level that the United States and the Soviet Union were capable of operating. These two powers were further boistered to their elevated status by the fact that they were both leaders of diametrically opposed ideologies which encompassed entire global spheres of lnfluence.

    Now, the Cold War is over, the world has recovered from war, and we are entering an era of supranational power blocs (like the E.U. and A.U.), the uninhibited growth of new players (like China and India), and an almost unchallenged spread of capitalism and democracy. To me, this existence of multiple tiers of power and influence, coupled with the lack of a noteable ideological counterpoint, indicate that the term ‘superpower’ is obsolete.

    In saying that, though, I don’t for a second believe that America is on the decline. People speak of the Iraq War, the growing oil crisis, and the American economic downturn as signs that the United States is slowly fading away from the international scene. None of this is new. People said the same of America when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik. They said the same during the late 1960’s with the ‘multipolar’ argument, and again in the 1970’s when the Oil Crisis spurred Jimmy Carter’s “malaise” speech. They also said it during the 1980’s ‘ascending Japan’ period.

    The fact is, the fundamental strengths of American economics and technological innovation remain firm, as does its ubiquitous cultural and economic influence on the world. It will be interesting to see just how this fits in with the growth of all these new players. The 21st Century is shaping up to be an exciting one.

  20. Haimona gray says:

    I would agree with Mr Cunningham that America’s power internationally is hardly on a decline, economically yes but not to an extent where it has effected their ability to throw their political power around. “at an historical public relations low-point due to its abysmal handling of Iraq” – while they are unpopular now this will change under a new (more affable and marketable) government and lets be honest, the bully is always unpopular but not to be taken lightly.

    I also question the choices of Brazil and Venezuela, how can such an unstable nations really be considered alongside a totalitarian but stable China or a prosperous India. Brazil has been the country of the NEXT decade for so long it seems it always will be, never reaching any great heights until it can root out the violence and massive corruption which engulf every sector of its government. From the three major corruption scandals that almost destroyed current president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s cabinet, to the wide spread police corruption (and murder – that never seems to dissipate, Brazil truly is “people at their most beautiful, humanity at its ugliest”(-

    Venezuela, which is lead by a terrorist supporting (Chavez supported the FARC as they tried to overthrow the democratically elected government of Colombia) madman (what man in his right mind would give his parrot a matching beret) who is more known for his antics (creating its own time zone closer to GMT, calling another international leader “el Diablo” and believing the 9/11 conspiracy theory) then his care for the freedom of his people (

    But other than that its a pretty feature, good stuff you guys.

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Editor's Pick

Uncomfortable places: skin.

:   Where are you from?  My list was always ready: England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, puppy dogs’ tails, a little Spanish, maybe German, and—almost as an afterthought—half Samoan. An unwanted fraction.   But you don’t seem like a Samoan. I thought you were [inser

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