Friday, May 15, 2009

How does China think?

What is China's stance toward the world? What does it plan to do? What kind of a world actor is it, will it be, does it want to be? What are its intellectual orientations toward its social and natural environments? All these questions basically boil down to wondering what China thinks about itself in relation to the world around it. History as it appears to be, I think China's mindset is the most fundamental question facing US intelligence.

In today's NY Times, Paul Krugman gives us his insight into China's mindset. And the sense Krugman portrays is that China considers itself an economic power with certain economic entitlements that outweigh world initiatives:

[T]he rate at which greenhouse gas emissions are rising is matching or exceeding the worst-case scenarios.

And the growth of emissions from China — already the world’s largest producer of carbon dioxide — is one main reason for this new pessimism.

. . . .

So what is to be done about the China problem?

Nothing, say the Chinese. Each time I raised the issue during my visit, I was met with outraged declarations that it was unfair to expect China to limit its use of fossil fuels. After all, they declared, the West faced no similar constraints during its development; while China may be the world’s largest source of carbon-dioxide emissions, its per-capita emissions are still far below American levels; and anyway, the great bulk of the global warming that has already happened is due not to China but to the past carbon emissions of today’s wealthy nations.

So China is modeling itself after post-1980 America???

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