China takes flight
START WITH the kiddie toys, the pajamas, and the computers. Then think about how far China has come since a panicky politburo ordered the People’s Liberation Army to open fire on the people in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Consider the $2 trillion surplus China Inc. has accumulated, the hundreds of millions of Chinese elevated out of poverty, Beijing’s growing stake in the energy resources of countries around the world, and the swiftness of China’s recovery from the worldwide recession. These are but some of the reasons to recognize the decade now ending as the decade of China’s rise.
The risen China certainly has its weaknesses within and without. The communist ruling class needs to create a social welfare safety net for peasants as well as urban workers. This must be done not only for the sake of social justice, or to tamp down popular discontent with crooked communist officials, but so that Chinese consumers feel free to save less and buy more domestic goods and services.
The party also needs to rein in corrupt officials, respect the human and civil rights of Chinese citizens, allow Tibetans to have cultural autonomy in their homeland, and cease partnering with the blood-drenched regimes in Sudan, Burma, and Zimbabwe. Morality, however, has no part in the brief for China’s ascendance as the central, defining phenomenon of the first decade of the new century. The mesmerizing sound-and-light show China staged for the 2008 Summer Olympics was a fitting climax for the China decade.
Alan Berger is a Globe editorial writer.