The Yellow Dragon can use Stinking Cloud at will

The Yellow Dragon can use Stinking Cloud at will

Today it was 26C in Tokyo, and we had our first taste of this year’s yellow dust, the strange and nasty pollution that tends to drift over Japan from China during spring and summer. Today’s was the worst I have ever seen in 5 years in Japan – the above photograph, taken from my ground floor balcony, shows the sky at about 3pm today, just after the cloud reached us. Apparently in Matsue, in Western Japan, visibility was down to 5 km. In case this seems like a strange thing to care about, let me assure you this “weather” is not pleasant: it causes sneezing, eye irritation, headaches and drowsiness in many people when it is at its worst, and I think some towns in Kyushu issued alerts that would cause some people to stay inside (especially those with respiratory problems). The US army monitors this phenomenon in Korea and issues regular warnings. Of particular recent concern is the increasing concentration of what the Japanese call “PM2.5,” very small particles of pollutants of size less than 2.5 microns, which seem to arise from industrial pollution and smog, and have specific associated health concerns. According to the Global Burden of Disease 2010, Ambient PM Pollution is the 4th biggest cause of lost disability-adjusted life years in China, and ranks much higher as a cause of years of life lost than of years of disability. By way of comparison it is ranked 16 in Australia and 10 in the USA.

Some part of the yellow dust problem is natural, due to sandstorms in the interior of China, but in the past 10 years the problem has become worse and its health effects more significant. No doubt part of the concern about its health effects arises from greater awareness, but there is also a confluence of factors at work in China that create the problem: desertification, soil erosion and pollution, and industrial pollution due primarily to coal power and transport. It’s becoming increasingly clear that as China develops, it needs to make a shift away from coal power and personal transportation, and it needs to do it soon. No matter how bad the yellow dust is in Japan, it has become very bad in China, and concern is growing about the seriousness of its health and economic effects.

This puts China on the horns of a dilemma. Development is essential to the improvement of human health, but the path China has taken to development, and the rapidity of its industrial and economic growth, are seriously affecting environmental quality. It’s possible that China is the canary in the coalmine of western development, and may be the first country to find its economic goals running up against its environmental constraints – and this despite a rapid slowing in population growth. China is going to have to start finding ways to reverse desertification, soil erosion, and particulate pollution, because it cannot afford to continue losing marginal farmland, degrading the quality of its farmland, and basing its industrial and urban growth on highly-polluting fossil fuels.

This raises the possibility that China needs to introduce a carbon tax (or better still, a carbon-pricing system) for reasons largely unrelated to global warming. A carbon pricing system with options for purchasing offsets, linked into the EU market, would potentially encourage reforestation and reductions/reversals in the rate of desertification; it would also provide economic incentives for investments in non-fossil fuel-based energy sources, probably nuclear for the long term and renewables for the short term. The government, by selling off permits, would be able to raise money to help manage the infrastructure and health needs of the poorest rural areas most in need of immediate development. These effects are important even without considering the potential huge benefits for the world from China slowing its CO2 emissions. I notice I’m not alone in this idea; Rabett Run has a post outlining the same environmental issues, and suggesting that there are many direct economic and social benefits of such a system.

This is not just of practical importance to China, but it’s rhetorically a very useful thing to note: that a lot of carbon sources (and most especially coal) have huge negative health and social consequences in their own right; raising the cost of using them and finding financial incentives to prevent or reverse deforestation is of huge benefit for a lot more reasons than just preventing runaway climate change. It would be cute indeed if China’s immediate economic and environmental problems became the cause of strong action to prevent climate change; on the other hand, it would be very sad if the focus on the AGW aspects of carbon pricing – which are a shared international burden rather than a national responsibility – led China’s decision makers to miss the other vital environmental problems it can address. Especially if failure to address those other environmental problems caused China’s economic growth and social liberalization to stall or fall backwards.

If any country is going to run up against environmental limits to growth, it is China; and if China can avoid that challenge, and the social and health problems it will cause, then there is great hope for the future of the planet. So let’s hope the Chinese can come to terms with their growing environmental challenges as adroitly as they have dealt with some of their others … and if their efforts to tackle those problems will benefit the rest of the world too.

In October my master’s student had her work on modeling HIV interventions in China published in the journal AIDS, with me as second author. You can read the abstract at the journal website, but sadly the article is pay-walled so its full joys are not available to the casual reader. This article is a sophisticated and complex mathematical model of HIV, which incorporates three disease stages, testing and treatment separately. It is based on a model published by Long et al in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2010, but builds on this model by including the effects of methadone maintenance treatment, and doesn’t include an injecting drug use quality of life weight. It also adds new risk groups to the model: Long et al considered only men who have sex with men (MSM), injecting drug users (IDU) and the general population, but we added commercial sex workers (CSW) and their clients, who we refer to as “high risk men.” Thus our mathematical model can consider the role of both injecting drug users and sex workers as bridging populations between high-risk groups and the general population, an important consideration in China.

The HIV epidemic in China is currently a concentrated epidemic, primarily among IDUs in five provinces, and amongst MSM. The danger of concentrated epidemics is that they give the disease a foothold in a country, and a poor or delayed response may cause the epidemic to jump to the rest of the population – there is some suggestion this may have happened in Russia, for example. The Chinese authorities, recognizing this risk, began expanding methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) in the early 2000s, but it still only covers 5% of the estimated 2,500,000 IDUs in China. Our goal in this paper was to compare the effectiveness of three key interventions to prevent the spread of this disease: expanded voluntary counseling and testing (VCT); expanded antiretroviral treatment (ART); and expanded harm reduction (MMT and needle/syringe programs); and combinations of these interventions. VCT was assumed to reduce risk behavior and expand the pool of individuals who can enter treatment per year; ART was assumed to reduce infectiousness; and harm reduction to reduce risk behavior. Costs were assigned to all of the programs based on available Chinese data, and different scenarios considered (such as testing everyone once a year, or high-risk groups more frequently than everyone else).
The results showed that all the interventions considered are cost-effective relative to doing nothing; that some of the interventions saved more money than they cost; and that the most cost-effective intervention was expanding access to ART. Harm reduction was very close to ART in cost-effectiveness, and would probably be more cost-effective if we incorporated its non-HIV-related effects (reduced mortality and crime). The Chinese government stands to reap a long-term benefit from implementing some of these programs now, through the 3.4 million HIV cases averted if the interventions are successful (there are a lot of “ifs” in that sentence).This is the first paper I’m aware of that compares ART and harm reduction head on for cost-effectiveness, though subsequently some Australians showed in the same journal that needle/syringe programs (NSP) in Australia are highly cost-effective as an anti-HIV intervention. This is also the most comprehensive model of HIV in China to date, and the first to conduct cost-effectiveness analysis in that setting. I think it might be the first paper to consider the detailed structure of risk groups in a concentrated epidemic, as well. There are obvious limitations to the conclusions that one can draw from a mathematical model, and some additional limitations on this model that are specific to China: the data on costs was a bit weak (especially for MMT) and of course there are questions about how feasible some of the interventions would be. We also didn’t consider restricting the interventions to the key affected provinces, which would have made them much cheaper, and we didn’t consider ART or VCT interventions targeted only at the high-risk groups, which would also have been cheaper. For example, legalizing sex work and setting strict licensing laws might enable universal, quarterly HIV testing and lead to the eradication of HIV from this group within 10 years, but we didn’t include this scenario in the model because a) legalization is not going to happen, b) enforcement of licensing laws is highly unlikely to be effective in the current context in China, and c) data on the size and behavior of the CSW population is probably the weakest part of our model, so findings would be unreliable. Despite the general and specific limitations of this kind of modeling in this setting, I think the results are a strong starting point for informing China’s HIV policy. China seems to have a very practical approach towards this kind of issue, so I expect that we’ll see these kinds of policies implemented in the near future. My next goal is to explore the mathematical dynamics of these kinds of models with the aim of answering some of the controversial questions about whether behavioral change is a necessary or effective part of a modern HIV response, and the exact conditions under which we can hope to eliminate or eradicate HIV. Things are looking very hopeful for the future of HIV, i.e. it’s going to be eliminated or contained in most countries within our lifetime even without development of a vaccine, and that’s excellent, but there is still debate about how fast that will happen and the most cost-effective ways of getting there: hopefully the dynamic properties of these models can give some insight into that debate. This article is a big professional achievement for me in another way. It’s extremely rare for master’s students to publish in a journal as prestigious as AIDS (impact factor over 6!), and my student’s achievement is a reflection of her amazing talent at both mathematics and English, and a year of intense work on her part, but I like to think it also is a reflection of my abilities as a supervisor. There were lots of points where we could have let things slide on the assumption that master’s students don’t publish in AIDS; but we didn’t, and she did. I like to think the final product reflects well on both of us, so read it if you get the chance!

I’ve been enjoying the Olympics from the vantage point of my air-conditioned couch, and because I’m in Japan I’m getting to see only the sports that interest Japanese viewers, so at the moment it’s wall-to-wall Judo and swimming. Of course, having something of a soft spot for China I’m quite happy to see them coming up in the world of olympic sports, and this year’s sensation is Ye Shiwen, the 16 year old swimmer whose performance has sparked controversy. An American high up in swimming circles claims she must be a drug cheat, because not only did she beat a man in one leg of her medley (and not just any man – an American man), her times have improved rapidly in just a year or two, and her freestyle leg was just so much faster than her other legs.

Of course this has pissed off the Chinese delegation and Chinese media no end, though to her credit Ye Shiwen has responded in a level-headed manner both in and out of the pool. But she might be surprised to hear that she has found some strong defenders in the Australian press. The Sydney Morning Herald has an article disputing all the main claims of the American coach, and suggesting that both Australian and American achievers could be accused of drug cheating if judged on their performance alone. About Ms. Ye swimming faster than an American man (Lochte) in her freestyle leg, he points out that she didn’t actually beat his medley speed overall, and in any case four other men in Lochte’s race did beat Ye’s time in the same leg – they were all swimming their hearts out to catch up with Lochte, which is what Ye had to do in her freestyle leg to catch the leader.

John Leonard’s other big complaint is that Ye shaved five seconds off her previous best at this Olympics. The Herald’s article tears this complaint apart:

It wasn’t an insinuation Rice had to deal with when she clocked her world record in 2008, which was at the time an absurdly fast result.

Earlier that year, Rice shaved a startling six seconds off her personal best time to hit 4.31.46 at the Australian trials. American Katie Hoff reclaimed the mark a few months late before Rice countered at the Beijing Games, reducing it to below 4.30 for the first time. In contrast, people seized on the fact Ye reduced her PB by five seconds to claim the new mark of 4.28.43 as genuine grounds for suspicion.

The article also points out that Leonard’s comparison of Ye’s times now with two years ago are unfair because of Ye’s age:

To the wider sporting world, Ye is only now becoming a notable name. Yet to swimming diehards, she has been one of the rising stars for some years, even if her surge of form in London has caught most people by surprise. Beisel and Rice had been the favourites for gold.

Ye won the 200m IM at the Asian Games in 2010 (2.09.37) and the 400m IM (4.33.79), all at age 14. At the time, she was listed at 160cm tall. Now, the official Olympic site lists her 12 cm loftier at 172cm. That sort of difference in height, length of stroke and size of hand leads to warp-speed improvement.

To me these paragraphs also contain an insinuation of bad faith against Leonards: he clearly, as a swimming insider, knows that Ye’s times have grown with her age and body size, and should be aware of her history. So why is he making the complaints so openly now? Would he be happy to have them made against Michael Phelps or Stephanie Rice when they started their careers? Is it fair on Ye that her improvement should be immediately slated home to drugs? The accusations have already hit home, with the doping committee making an unprecedented release of her pre-olympic drug testing results to calm the waters, but it’s probably the case that the claims won’t die down.
I think that she’s probably not a drug cheat (or if she is, she’s doing the same undetectable cheating as everyone else) and Leonards and others who insinuate that she is are well aware that her performance is natural. But these people are watching their nation’s long-standing dominance of this sport sliding out of their grip as China’s performance improves. There are also insinuations of “military-style training camps” (always a marker of repression when they do it, but of efficiency when we do it), tightly-controlled sporting worlds, etc. But in fact the Chinese swimming world is quite open and employs foreign coaches, one of whom wrote an illuminating opinion piece for the Guardian, indicating exactly why China is improving its performances so fast: hard work. This coach writes:

Chinese athletes train incredibly hard, harder than I can explain in words and as a coach who has placed swimmers on five different Olympic Games teams, I have never seen athletes train like this anywhere in the world.

They have an unrelenting appetite for hard work, can (and will) endure more pain for longer than their western counterparts, will guarantee to turn up for practice every single time and give their all. They are very proud of their country, they are proud to represent China and have a very team focused mentality.

He adds that there is no special talent selection program, but that he just selects those players he sees and thinks are good. But he gives an interesting insight into the supposedly centrally-managed, state mandated programs that are always painted in such a negative light when they compete with Western athletics – in fact, like so much of Chinese “communism” they’re probably more free market than those in the West:

Let’s also not forget that this is their only avenue for income; most do not study and sport offers them a way out or a way up from where they and their families currently live in society. If their swimming fails, they fail and the family loses face … my athletes are salaried and receive bonuses for performance; I am salaried and receive bonuses for performance. We all want performance, not mediocrity, not sport for all, but gold medals – and they are not afraid to say this.

He also observes that China gives him all the funding he needs, and enormous freedom to manage his coaching programs:

If I want a foreign training camp, money is available; if I want high-altitude training – money is available; if I want an assistant coach – money is available; if I want some new gadgets or training equipment, guess what? Money is available.

I think this is the real threat that people like Leonards are worried about. As China becomes wealthy, it is pouring money into playing catch up not just industrially and economically, but in the cultural and scientific pursuits that have traditionally marked out the west as “advanced,” on the assumption that fast development in these areas will lead to results that will challenge western cultural hegemony. They don’t want to be pinned down to traditionally “Asian” sports that often have lower value (ping-pong, badminton, the traditional martial arts) but want to compete in areas that, by being traditionally western strongholds, often have higher cultural value attached to them: swimming, basketball, soccer and gymnastics. And by dint of their combination of rapid economic growth, rampant nationalism, and highly successful mix of central planning and free market ideas, they’re going to catch up fast. The doyens of a previous era of cultural and sporting superiority don’t want to accept it, just as a previous generation of industrialists couldn’t accept Japanese superiority in industry, and a previous generation of military planners couldn’t believe Japanese naval and air superiority.

As China continues to improve its sporting prowess, I think we’ll see more of the same, allied at times with accusations of cheating and corruption. But I think, given the sour grapes China’s growth is producing in many areas in the west, we should approach many claims about their sports programs and sportspeople with a great deal of cynicism and caution.

Heading for a fall?

China’s rapid economic rise has been the topic of much debate over the past few years, and I think that this rise has some implications for western political economic theorists that are quite fun to explore. The orthodox view of China’s rise seems to be that it is going to continue to grow rapidly for a while to come, and that this growth is a serious threat to world stability. Of course a lot of the kind of thinking you read on China is just bog-standard journalistic stupidity, not worthy of much time and heavily influenced by that strange blend of insecurity and arrogance that seems to characterize cheap western journalists’ approach to Asia. A lot of it also looks like a very close copy of what was said about Japan both before World War 2 and again during Japan’s meteoric rise of the 70s and 80s. However, generally, no matter how poor the quality of journalism on Japan, foreign policy seems to have been much more level-headed, and China has been allowed to do its thing largely in peace since the 1970s. In response, China has changed radically over that time: it’s adopted many elements of the free market, turned its back on much of the Maoist principles that led to disasters like the Cultural Revolution, and has even come close to admitting and apologizing for Tienanmen Square (though it hasn’t). Also, most of the UN’s millenium goals have not been met, but those that have been met are largely due to China: it has made huge inroads into health and social problems that other developing economies have failed to dent, so something is going right in China. On the other hand, some people think that China is heading for a crash, and that this crash is going to be bad, based on bad fundamentals; this goes very much against the orthodoxy and is almost a heretical claim, but it is out there. Certainly China’s GDP growth is hard to believe from the perspective of most developed economies.

I think these changes, and the way the world is beginning to reorient economically and politically around Asia, raise interesting questions for political economists in the West. I think that a lot of people are ignoring the possible theoretical challenges that China’s rise may pose for a variety of Western disciplines, and I want to consider them here. Let us suppose that China continues to liberalize politically without becoming democratic, and let us assume also that China follows the trajectory many people seem to believe it is capable of, and continues to develop without an economic crash – that is, it maintains an economy that has, essentially, the characteristics of a bubble without collapsing – suppose instead that it makes a soft landing, with the party putting the brakes on growth where necessary and slowing things down at the right time – this seems to be what many people believe will happen. I think this raises some challenging questions for market neo-liberals, marxists and possibly also Keynesians, that I’d like to consider here.

1. Is market capitalism the best model?

Modern Western political economics seems to have pretty much given up on any kind of economic system except market capitalism, but most economic theorists seem resigned to the existence of boom-and-bust cycles in capitalism: the challenge is not in getting rid of them, but in managing them. But every bust is a tragedy for a minority of the population, and creates (minor) political upheaval. Eliminating boom-and-bust would be a boon for capitalism, but despite the Gordon Brown’s infamous claim to the contrary, it doesn’t seem possible. So if China can develop over the next 10 years without experiencing such a catastrophe, then the Chinese may be able to claim to have developed a capitalist model free of busts; but their model, for all its capitalist points, is not market capitalism. Is managed capitalism a better capitalist model than market capitalism, and can it be achieved in a democracy? Of course, other Asian nations have shown similar economic models – Japan and Thailand spring to mind – but they eventually faced busts as they liberalized. If China avoids the bust (and there’s no guarantee it will) while maintaining greater than 5% annual growth over 2 decades, what does this tell us about the relative merits of managed vs. market capitalism? I think this possibility raises challenging questions for liberal economists and Keynesians alike.

2. Are economic freedoms and political freedoms really intertwined?

A common mantra of neo-liberal economists and market liberals generally is that economic and political freedoms are intricately intertwined; that you cannot genuinely have one without the other. In its most extreme form any form of government interference in markets must necessarily reduce political freedom too; in more reasonable forms, it’s not possible to advance to a proper level of political and social freedom if large portions of the population don’t have economic freedom. But this doesn’t happen in China: a society without fundamental political freedoms is developing a strong market economy, which (although I have no proof) I think is much more economically free than the classical liberal model would expect given the lack of political freedoms. Is the market liberalist model of the essential interconnection of these two freedoms fundamentally wrong? If so, under what conditions? I can think of a model of economic and political freedom in Australia which depends on strong, prescriptive social institutions (union membership and compulsory voting) that are quite unique in the developed world – and Australia also has a remarkable economic history over the past 30 years. Is some restriction on political freedom essential for achieving economic freedom?

3. Was historical materialism completely wrong?

As I understand it, historical materialism describes stages of economic development that societies pass through, and argues that transition to a new stage occurs through social and political upheaval. Typically, marxists believed that the communist revolution could only occur once society had developed through some “objective” standards, to the point of industrialization, and that the social and political upheaval that heralded the coming of the communist utopia would generally only be achieved when society contained a sufficient critical mass of politically conscious industrial workers. Generally, therefore, marxists preferred to be active in industrialized societies with strong unions and social democratic parties – places like the UK and (famously) Germany. But the most successful communist societies – Cuba and China – were underdeveloped relative to the historical materialist model, and their revolutions occurred through military action amongst peasants by a vanguard of (often foreign-educated) members of the elite, not the industrial working class. Communist China has existed since 1949, so in 2021 it will become the longest-lived communist nation on Earth (supplanting the USSR, 1917-1989); sooner if you factor in the period of instability in the USSR that followed the revolution (the equivalent period having occurred before 1949 in China). So unless something drastic happens in the next 10 years, it appears that historical materialism’s predictions were, are and will be thoroughly and utterly wrong. Not only that; while the USSR and the Eastern European communist states, founded in a strong industrial working class, were inflexible and oppressive, China and Cuba have shown themselves to be much better able to adapt to the flows of history, and have shown themselves capable of survival through pursuing political, economic and foreign policy reforms that were unthinkable to the founding nations of the communist ideal. Of course, it could just be that there are cultural influences at work – Cuba is far from the only South American country to have tried communism, and the rest (like Nicaragua) were very flexible in their interpretation of the tenets of Marxism; and Vietnam is another example of an Asian communist country that gave classical Marxism the flick very quickly. But historical materialism presents itself as some kind of fundamental theory. Whichever way you slice it, unless China really goes under in the next 5-10 years, I think Marxists need to accept that their view of history is completely stupid and wrong. And when they do, I’d like an apology to my Grandfather for the despicable actions of the USSR in the Spanish civil war – actions that were based in an application of historical materialism to a country that was very close to the Latin American and Asian exemplars of a society ready for a communist revolution.

4. Is parliamentary democracy the only model of consultative government?

I think that the Chinese one-party state is actually quite a consultative political system – through cadres and local party structures I think it gathers information on the needs and opinions of ordinary Chinese and adapts its policies accordingly. People don’t get to vote for their leaders, but I think there are ways in which the leadership is influenced by ordinary opinion. I think this is a crucial part of the process by which the country has been able to engage in near-continuous reform since 1970, without many significant internal upheavals. I also think that this is an important difference between China and the USSR, whose leaders acted like new Tzars. Furthermore, it is clear that the Chinese leadership listen and react to foreign opinion, though never (obviously) against their own interests. So I wonder if they have created a kind of consultative government that responds to public pressure without elections. If it were possible to quantify differences in political responsiveness, would the Chinese leadership be found to be significantly different in accountability to, say, Obama, Bush or Sarkozy? Especially on foreign policy issues, China has avoided some quagmires that the entire world was very clearly telling Bush and Blair they should avoid; but it has also implemented significant reforms in economic and social policy that one would not expect of a communist leadership. Is this a sign of careful listening? And if so, does this mean that consultative government can be achieved without elections – is it possible it could be more desirable? If not desirable as a whole, does it offer any lessons in public accountability and responsiveness that western democracies can learn from? Was, e.g., the Australian Labor Party a more responsive and consultative government under Hawke not because of his leadership but because of its strong system of local branches and union representation? Is the problem with modern political parties that they are poll-driven spin-monsters, or that they lack the grassroots membership necessary to maintain a level of consultative interaction with the community? And if so, are they still genuinely democratic, even though they maintain the semblance of democracy through elections? If democracy is reduced to just a shell-game of voting and polling, is it any better than a politically restrictive but socially consultative dictatorship? Is the only difference one of sustainability, in that a dictatorship can go pear-shaped after a change of leader, while a democracy can’t? And if so, how do we explain the continued smooth transitions of leadership in Chinese communism?

5. Are democracies less militaristic than dictatorships?

In my previous post on China’s military budget, I noted that China is actually a pretty good international citizen, with low levels of military spending and very few imperialist projects. In short, China doesn’t go to war easily. In the past 20 years it hasn’t gone to war at all, while the USA has gone to war at least four times – on one occasion “accidentally” lobbing a missile into a Chinese consulate, an act that China chose not to respond aggressively too. How is it that a one party state that is, let’s face it, militarily pretty impregnable even when it isn’t spending much, is so uninterested in military adventures? One idea that occurred to me with the anniversary of the Falklands War is that China doesn’t have any domestic democratic pressure to go to war. China manipulates militaristic sentiment domestically, some would argue quite cynically, but is perfectly capable of putting a lid on demands for war. On the other hand, democratic leaders can benefit significantly from military intervention, whether they seek it out (as Bush did in Gulf War 2) or it comes to them (as in the Falklands). They have a lot of incentives to manipulate jingoistic sentiment,  and I think recent events show that they are quite happy to do so when it suits them. Before world war 2, wars of colonial conquest were a given in Western political theory – the idea that you don’t invade some tinpot country when it suits you would have been quite alien to the way of thinking of most democrats in London or Washington or Paris. Perhaps for dictators war is much less likely to be a net positive politically than it is for democrats? But this idea doesn’t stand up by itself – dictators have a long history of stupid wars, and the worst wars of the last century only occurred after democracies slid into dictatorship. So what is the particular property of China’s one-party state that makes it so averse to wars of choice? Some cultural thing? Something about its particular political constitution? If so, is there a class of dictatorships – like China – that are much less likely to go to war than a modern democracy? Are the properties of this class fragile and easily changeable (so that, e.g., China could just suddenly flip into a military expansionist mode tomorrow), or does it have something to do with the aforementioned consultative style? Is it simply a function of China’s stage of development? Is there something about the sheer size and diversity of China that means the political class have to tread very carefully to avoid tearing the country apart?

I don’t claim to have a view one way or the other on any of these questions, but I think they pose interesting challenges to the mainstream of western political economics as I perceive it through my (layman’s) perspective. If China successfully negotiates its development phase, and especially if it can resolve the Taiwan issue peacefully, then I think political economists are going to have to accept that their theories are challenged by the new models (and some of the older ones) springing up in Asia. I doubt we’ll see much change, but that doesn’t mean we can’t consider the possible ramifications of a peaceful, stable, economically and environmentally sustainable China, if such a beast emerges over the next 10-20 years. How will Western democratic and economic ideologies change in the Asian century?

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