Small Steps in the Direction

Because HispanicLatinos already are a great part of the nation’s military and will be a larger part still in the years ahead, they should monitor President Obama’s recent decisions to assert American power in the South China Sea.  From Australia to the Philippines to Thailand, the United States is creating pockets of American strength to make sure China’s growth as a world power does not retrace the erroneous path that Japan took more than 70 years ago.  Left unchecked, a totalitarian Japan swept across the Pacific and only a bloody effort led by the United States pushed them back.

You have to be on top of things to know how cleverly China is going about its business as it senses that the balance of power not only in that region but in the world is moving away from the United States.  Building gigantic commercial ports that also can accommodate the large naval vessels it is constructing at high speed is one of the easier examples.  China is active on all fronts, from Iran to Latin America to outer space.  No one begrudges them their advancement as a world power and their development as a new and important nation.  But let us make sure that the Chinese rise to power is not predicated on thinking that the United States is going to go silently into the night. Continue reading

A Very Chávez Christmas, and it’s not Hugo Boss

Another gift from Hugo Chávez to the United States and the rest of the countries of the Americas.  How touching.  Just in time for Christmas.  Not just any kind of gift, but one with long-term strategic complications: His announcement that the Chinese have loaned Venezuela another $4 billion in loans on top of the $26 billion already outstanding.  The loans, secured by future sales of Venezuelan oil, ordinarily would be a normal transaction between sovereign nations, but, of course, it isn’t.  The Chinese also have pledged to invest another $40 billion in other energy-related projects. Continue reading

A Different Kind of Tea Party

My tea this morning is perfect.  As Premier of China and head of government and the State Council, I seldom get a bad cup of tea.  The intra-party struggles have been resolved.  We seem to be managing that burst of inflation that reared its head in the economy.  Our balance of payments continues to grow spectacularly in our favor.  Things are fine.  We need to open up credit a bit more, but generally we are on our way.  Why do I feel so odd, then?

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All the World’s a Soccer Ball

The sight astounded my friend Tony.  He had entered another world far, far different than anything he had experienced.  I had warned him.  He did not believe it when I told him what to expect.  He had been to stately Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., before, but not for anything like this.  In many ways that day for me in 1978 was when the modern era of globalization became real, although its forces were already underway.

Little did we know then that the arguments among the Chinese elites were underway on whether or how to bring China out of its communist shell into the real world.  Only six years prior, Richard Nixon had astounded the world by travelling to Peking to set off the debate.  Three decades later, the world has changed, so that Beijing ranks as important as Washington. Continue reading

The Manchurian Candidate as the next Steve Jobs

The 1962 film The Manchurian Candidate was a great movie for the days when communism aimed to dominate the world.  The movie narrates the Chinese government’s attempt to take over the United States by subverting the mind of a solider who is the son of a would-be President of the country.  Chinese intelligence agents turn him into a political assassin bent on eradicating the opposition.  The film’s most iconic image is the crosshairs of his rifle.

The remake of the movie in 2004 was a flop.  That is about the only thing regarding anything Chinese that has flopped lately.  Fifty years after the original movie, the Chinese are closer than Mao ever imagined to global predominance.  And who would have thought back then that the United States would create its own Manchurian candidate by allowing its middle class to be hollowed out and by failing to develop a HispanicLatino population that daily is becoming a greater part of the nation’s population.

Experts disagree on how quickly China is going to develop into a superpower and “overtake” the United States.  If the question boils down to a debate about the wealth of the “average Chinese household” and the “average American household,” the United States wins.  The standard of living for individuals in the United States is higher – by many times over – than for individuals in China.  That is important until one considers that the Chinese number 1.3 billion and the United States 315 million.  A ratio of more than 4 to 1.

The numbers tell a more subversive story than any movie ever could: If only a third of China’s population achieves middle class status before its demographic growth levels off, that amounts to almost 400 million people – by far more than the current population of the United States, whose middle class currently is shrinking and whose HispanicLatino population makes the story more interesting more quickly.

Since 1970, the actual income of the average HispanicLatino household has decreased – this for a group whose proportion of the national population is increasing while the size of the rest of the white population is decreasing.  For a country the size of the United States to remain relevant, those lines should be trending upward, but two of the three are not.

Aside from the demographic drama being played out, the reason why China will overtake the United States in due course is that it will have more people doing more things and probably more people doing more things better.  The future of the world will also be decided by those with harder – not necessarily better – societal values, so that any population that does not have hard work, focus and attention as core values will suffer.

It leaves an impression on the mind, indeed, to walk by a college library – almost any library – late on Saturday nights and early on Sunday mornings.  Only Asian students from foreign lands are working and studying – with literally no one else around.  In the new world of absolutely maniacal global competition, the most absolutely maniacal workers will win.

Thinking that somewhere in a room off campus a Steve Jobs is inventing the next economic revolution is sadly simplistic and shortsighted.  We need scores of Steve Jobs – and those willing to sacrifice as he did throughout his life but certainly early in his career.

All of us – HispanicLatinos especially – are in the crosshairs of history, and we probably won’t get a shot at a remake.

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