Tomorrowstan on a revived Silk Road or just another Chinese attempt at grandstanding

silk road-map


Tomorrowstan along the Silk Road could be a utopia, that becomes a dystopia as seems to be the common mature form of utopias. Or it might be just another impossible dream. If Eurasia has 3/4 of the world’s population it seems only right it should have 3/4 of its resources. I live in Oceania and have always regarded it as a bit of a backwater. The United States has only been
important for 3 or 4 generations. 

If a rejuvenation of the Silk Road brings prosperity to the countries along it, peacefully, it seems like a positive development, especially if it gives Muslims and East Asians reason to stay in their own countries. But like the EU, it sounds too big, with two many complexities. The people who say it won’t rely on ‘financial capitalism’ sound like they don’t know what they’re talking about; and if China wants to turn the renminbi into a kind of Euro, it’s going to meet with a lot of resistance. Thailand, Uzbekistan, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan are not known for their economic acumen-Thailand is where the exchange rate crisis of 1995-6 began. 

A lot of people like to talk about China’s patience and historical designs but few of them come to fruition with unalloyed success. The vast majority of Chinese are still poor even compared to Poland or the Czech Republic, although Chinese growth is petering out even now, as other countries compete with China with cheap manufacturing goods and as other countries put up trade barriers to them. China’s growth figures are often not decomposed from its inflation rate. Its exchange rate depends on a dirty float. Chinese government debt is hidden behind non-productive state owned enterprises. It has a population dilemma where lifting its one child policy will add to a massive population; but the one child policy has already resulted in an inverted population pyramid. Its demographic circumstances will cause it to suffer from the economic malaise that afflicts much of Europe, especially in the matter of pensions for the aged. Or if it doesn’t support its aged and other needy people social unrest will take the Politburo’s mind off the Silk Road.

China is striving all over the world to extend economic and military influence. Yet in its haste to overcome the United States it has expended its natural resources while it lacks real military muscle; its strength is numbers on paper that don’t stand scrutiny in terms of relative fire-power. Nor has it demonstrated ingenuity in developing technology in military or engineering fields. It simply seems that China has bitten off more than it can chew. 

The Silk Road sounds more like a pipe dream than a reality; and more like a boogie man than a menace for those who would fear it.



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