November 18, 2011

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: China’s Global Nightmare. “The real importance of this story does not, however, have much to do with Brazil’s jittery nerves about Chinese investment. It is to remind us about a key Chinese vulnerability that is often overlooked by pundits: China’s growing dependence on natural resources located far from its frontiers. Beijing’s chosen national strategy — to achieve great power status by becoming the industrial workshop of the world — locks it into a complex and difficult set of dependencies and relationships with countries and markets all over the world. Access to those resources traps China in complicated geopolitical tradeoffs that can blow up in unexpected ways — as when China had to scramble to protect its citizens in Libya. Chinese companies become the object of public anger if they are seen to be economically exploitative, unwelcoming to local labor, or environmentally destructive. And, of course, in the event of a confrontation with the United States, China’s entire supply chain and overseas investments are helpless hostages.”

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