[Marxism] China: America's Head Servant?

Matthew Russo russo.matthew9 at gmail.com
Tue Nov 10 21:20:50 MST 2009

The NLR makes another connection to the real world. -Matt

http://www.newleftreview.org/A2809  Free, should be accessible.

Beijing is well aware that further accumulation of foreign reserves is
counterproductive, since it would increase the risk associated with the
assets China already holds or else induce a shift to ever riskier ones. The
government is also very aware of the need to reduce the country’s export
dependence and stimulate the growth of domestic demand by increasing the
working classes’ disposable income. Such a redirection of priorities has to
involve moving resources and policy preferences away from the coastal cities
to the rural hinterland, where protracted social marginalization and
underconsumption have left ample room for improvement. But the vested
interests that have taken root over several decades of export-led
development make this a daunting task. Officials and entrepreneurs from the
coastal provinces, who have become a powerful group capable of shaping the
formation and implementation of central government policies, are so far
adamant in their resistance to any such reorientation. This dominant faction
of China’s elite, as exporters and creditors to the world economy, has
established a symbiotic relation with the American ruling class, which has
striven to maintain its domestic hegemony by securing the living standards
of us citizens, as consumers and debtors to the world. Despite occasional
squabbles, the two elite groups on either side of the Pacific share an
interest in perpetuating their respective domestic status quos, as well as
the current imbalance in the global economy.

Unless there is a fundamental political realignment that shifts the balance
of power from the coastal urban elite to forces that represent rural
grassroots interests, China is likely to continue leading other Asian
exporters in diligently serving—and being held hostage by—the us. The
Anglo-Saxon establishment has recently become more respectful towards its
Asian partners, inviting China to become a ‘stakeholder’ in a ‘ChiAmerican’
global order, or ‘g2’. What they mean is that China should not rock the
boat, but should continue to help maintain American economic dominance (in
return, perhaps, for more consideration of Beijing’s concerns over Tibet and
Taiwan). This would enable Washington to buy precious time to secure its
command over emergent sectors of the world economy through debt-financed
government investment in green technology and other innovations, and hence
remake its ailing supremacy into a green hegemony. This seems to be exactly
what the Obama administration is betting on as its long-term response to the
global crisis and declining American power.

If China were to re-orient its developmental model and achieve greater
balance between domestic consumption and exports, it could not only free
itself from dependence on the collapsing us consumer market and addiction to
risky us debt, but also benefit manufacturers in other Asian economies that
are equally eager to escape these dangers. More importantly, if other
emerging economies were to pursue a similar re-orientation and South–South
trade were to deepen, then they could become one another’s consumers,
ushering in a new age of autonomous and equitable growth in the global
South. Until that happens, however, a recentring of global capitalism from
West to East and from North to South in the aftermath of the global crisis
remains little more than wishful thinking.

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