WHAT EXPLAINS CHINA'S HYPNOTIC SPELL?
B. S. Raghavan
The Hindu Business Line, October 31, 2011
There is an unceasing flood of academic and journalist writings, as also seminars and workshops, on China, with no end in sight. The irresistible attraction the country holds for governments, think-tanks and institutions of learning all over the globe is without precedent. Every bit of everything that emanates from there is dissected, scrutinised, analysed, discussed and written upon in the form of books, articles, papers, op-ed pieces, columns and commentaries. What explains this extraordinary phenomenon?
It cannot surely be China's GDP ranking or the prospect of its heading soon for the top position overtaking the US and Japan in purchasing power parity terms. Nor can it be its huge foreign exchange holdings, nor the fact of the US being in its debt to the extent of a trillion dollars. These provoke interest but do not account for the veritable hypnotic spell cast by China.
One can only grope for an answer. If one wants to be facetious, one can repeat the answer of George Mallory who, when asked why he was so particular about climbing Everest, promptly retorted: “Because it's there!” China is not only there, looming large like Everest, but, in many respects, fits the famous picturisation of Russia by Winston Churchill as “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma”.
There are familiar rule books by which most countries of the world have for centuries worked out their domestic policies and economic frameworks, and played their geopolitical and diplomatic games with the outside world. But they are of no use in unravelling what China's decision or action will be in a given situation.
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