Sunday, March 25, 2012

No, Those are the Little Questions

Something--perhaps big--appears to be going on in China's political world. Foreign Policy goes over the five big rumors:

Speculation is rife that a coup might have happened, with the only general consensus being that something big is going on in Beijing. What follows is a curated guide to the "information" -- read: wild rumors and speculation -- floating around online in Chinese about Bo Xilai's surprising fall from grace and what his sacking means for the future of the Chinese Communist Party.

They are interesting. And all are considered unlikely. So something else is the answer to the question of what is going on in Peking. It is quite possible that the answer to the question is "nothing in particular."

Which leads to the bigger question of how can anyone believe that if China takes our place as the dominant power that our interests will be defended in a manner little different from the transition from Britain to America (and it would be good for us, really, they say, because China rather than America will pay for the military power to defend the system we designed)? China is the second biggest power and we have no idea if a coup is taking place in China. How can this uncertaintly be a source of a light-hearted article in a serious publication (As the judgment of one rumor shows: "Likelihood: Slightly better than the Mayan Apocalypse.")?

We live in a country where the administration makes Friday night data dumps certain that being too late for Friday evening news means that the flood of news we consume will make the data dump mere ancient history by Monday when people start to pay attention to the news again. Little can happen here without going public fast and the way to hide information is to dilute it in the flood of news we live in (whether the media will cover it is another question). Yet in China, we can only speculate about whether a coup is or is not happening.

I don't think that China is fated to become either the number one economic power or the most powerful and influential global power at our expense. Demographics (and maybe economics) could get in the way of the former and geography the latter. But for those who assume both and tell us not to worry about it, how does this mystery about what is happening in China provide any assurance that the rise of China to dominance is something that we should welcome?