30 December 2014

The new cold war.

I make no secret of my admiration of the Chinese government's approach to conquering the world. They took the best parts of capitalism and applied it to the control of communism to develop the most important economy in the world today. But make no mistake - they are not content to control the financial system. They want to control it all.

No country can every conquer the world. Even the United States, whom some would say have owned the path of humanity since the end of the second great war, cannot keep other groups from making choices that are contrary to our desires. But America has also made no secret of this asinine concept of "exceptionalism" that is code for "we are better than the rest of the world so we can do whatever the hell we want". No human is better than any other human but our current systems do not reward the advancement of all humanity.

The grand ol' USA decided a couple of decades ago that they wanted China, with their never-ending stockpile of communist labor, to build all of our toys. Those silly Chinese would be too stupid to know what they were manufacturing, so it would be no problem for them to build some of the most technologically advanced gadgetry being used. We get cheap goods and the lowly country of China would get a little money to help their poor little rice patty universe.

As it turns out, the People's Republic of China was every bit as smart as the Americans and may very well have outsmarted us at our own game. They educated their citizens and managed to collect enough money to start buying out or creating their own world leading technology firms. Lenovo, Motorola, Huawei, Xiaomi, ZTE, Baidu - the list goes on. Yes, the "free world" may still be leading but China is on pace to catch us within the next decade.

At the same time, China continues to control what their citizens can and cannot do. Much like the Great Wall before it, they have assembled the "Great Firewall" that can keep their billions focused on only the items they have approved for use. Google is on the other side of the political coin and China is doing everything they can to block their "free speech" ways along with numerous other American tech staples.

China has every right to govern how they see fit and make any choices they like. Yet they are playing a very different game then we have ever encountered previously.  While China and America are pretending to like each other, this isn't a problem, but this relationship seems certain to crumble. Sure, they might have nowhere near the level of control as our friends in North Korea, but they certainly are taking steps to get closer. By controlling what citizens consume they have an army of intellect that is slowly becoming wary of the West.

While China pushed the world to reject usage of the American dollar, cuts off American industry and continues building a military force, the United States is starting to experiment with moving manufacturing home. There is a recognition that the marriage is losing the once rosy hue and corporations are starting to reduce the dependence.

However, a dark day could be in our future if these two heavyweights ever have a serious disagreement, and China is well aware of that. The one area of tech that they have not received willingly is the free world's military capabilities. Is China content with slowly inventing (or stealing) those abilities on their own? Or would they consider a partnership with a large communist neighbor?

Russia has the military capability and China has the money. They both love controlling their citizens and are not huge fans of the West. On the surface it seems like a marriage made in heaven, but could Putin swallow a little pride to allow the guys next door to have equal (or better) billing? It seems we could be witnessing the beginnings of a new cold war.