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The Great Cray Of China

Nov
1
2004

John Markoff has a simply amazing story on the front page of today’s NYTimes business section.
It’s about computer scientist Steve – not his real name, you can bet on that – Chen and his recent decision to commute between his new office in China and his home in San Jose California. That’s right, he commutes. The Chinese offered to help him build his dream supercomputer. So, well, he followed his bliss, so to speak.
For the West Coast, that’s only a 9 hour plane ride, like going to Paris from New York. But, culturally, Chen and his compatriots in bi-cultural living are breaking all kinds of new ground. This is one of the odder features of the 21st Century, one we still haven’t really grappled with. When you leave your native country, even if you do so as a young man as Chen did, you do not need to forsake it, even if it was once hostile to the very ideas of the land you have called home for years. That’s a new development and for U.S. politics toward Asia — China in particular — and it’s hugely important.


There’s a lot of other China news out there today.
Juan Cole has a long post on why Democrat John Kerry is the right man to be president. Deep inside, he has a few choice observations about China that resonate with Chen’s experience.
The most frightening thing of all is that the Project for a New American Century group, which has made an internal coup in the Bush administration, ultimately has its sights on China. They want to surround, besiege, and break up Communist China, as they imagine the US did to the Soviet Union. In many ways, the Bush administration uses North Korea as a proxy for China, saying things about Pyongyang they really would like to say about Beijing. In fact, China is currently increasingly tied to the US-led world economic order and has every impetus to cooperate with the US on most issues. The Chinese take in $80 billion a year more from the US than we make from them. Picking a fight with Beijing, which is a very attractive option for the American Right, would be disastrous.
And if you think Cole’s exaggerating, along comes Michael Totten using a little bit of Glenn Reynolds’ Instapundit real estate to fill out that part of the argument. There are long and complicated reasons why the People’s Republic doesn’t want the world to recognize Taiwan — which is not the Israel of Asia — because it considers the island to be a wayward province that will, eventually make its peace with the rest of the country.
You don’t need Steve Chen to underscore Cole’s point. It helps, of course. The need for a comprehensive and intelligent foreign policy that takes into account the new economic realities of global commerce is overdue, long overdue. It’s not going to be an easy policy to craft. One of the more striking features about China’s econmic policy toward the west is its firm graphs of our greed. The de facto creators of U.S.’s foreign economic policy, businessmen do not make great diplomats.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 2:36 PM | Permalink

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