To Be a Superpower or Not To Be a Superpower, That Is Not the Question…

22/52 : Tian an Men
Eric Constantineau – www.ericconstantineau.com / Foter / CC BY-NC

Whether China is or is yet to be, or if it even wants or wants not to be a superpower are not the important questions to me. One way or the other, the answer is or will be yes. An important question for me is, how will China manage its increasingly powerful role in the world while also managing the consumption requirements of its increasingly demanding and aggressive population.

Of course, controlling the flow of information — internet censorship, for example — within and without of the country, will be key to its strategy of ascent to the highest heights of global power. But even censorship and governmental intimidation and societal manipulation will serve little purpose when the country’s water wells run dry from its hyper-industrialization and the ongoing desertification of large swaths of the country. When this happens we can certainly expect an explosive rise in the price of global food commodities. And as we’ve seen in our very recent past, when food prices rise beyond the reach of the least affluent, tempers rise right along with them.

And when tempers rise…

Governments fall.

Resource Wars are inevitable, and I foresee China opening up the first major front in the assault.

Exactly when this will all happen?

Now, that is the question.

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Look it up, folks. It’s all out there.

Scary stuff, for sure.

But scary as it is, it’s all delectable fodder for the imagination of the author intent on creating a world of horrific dystopian proportions and perfection…

 
 

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The Power of Money, the Money of Power

Chinese Currency
By: Paul. B

There is much ado in the news about China’s Wen Jiabao, the supposed People’s Premier, accumulating a massive fortune, for both himself and his extended family, while serving within the highest ranks of China’s government.

According to New York Times reporting:

Many relatives of Wen Jiabao, including his son, daughter, younger brother and brother-in-law, have become extraordinarily wealthy during his leadership, an investigation by The New York Times shows. A review of corporate and regulatory records indicates that the prime minister’s relatives — some of whom, including his wife, have a knack for aggressive deal making — have controlled assets worth at least $2.7 billion.

No one is surprised by this, right? I mean, when in history has there ever been an authoritarian, non-transparent government where its leaders — and often…well, usually…okay, you’re right, always…those close to the leaders — did not become fabulously wealthy as a result of their position within the government?

We all know the quote, Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, so it is not news that Jiabao, or any other Chinese government senior leader, and their families and friends, have profited because of their positions.

And you know what else isn’t news? The fact that China has blocked all internet access to the New York Times, as well as to other major news outlets, such as the BBC, that are reporting on the story.

Without a doubt, Western-style democracies are far from perfect; and, without a doubt, many politicians and government officials within these supposed transparent governments have amassed huge, unknowable, amounts of cash because of their positions. Still, at least we who live in countries governed by democracies, with our right to vote and with our freedom of speech, have a semblance of a notion that we can contain the corruption. Whether it’s true or not is debatable, but having a semblance of a notion is better than having none at all.

Artist Ai Weiwei on Art and Censorship

An exclusive interview from The New Yorker

In my view, nothing demands the guarantees of freedom more than how one chooses to express his or her relationship with life. Some choose to express this relationship through song, through the pen, through spirituality, through art. There are so many choice ways to express oneself that no matter how hard oppressive forces try to oppress these expressions of life, and they will try very, very hard, they will always and ultimately fail. Freedom can never be truly or completely oppressed.

The Proxy Wars

SOPA Soap Opera
jurvetson / Foter / CC BY

Oppressive governments like China, Iran, and Syria, among many others, are spending billions to censor the internet from their populations; and other governments like Pakistan, that one might not consider to be in the same oppressive category as China and the others mentioned, are also focused on internet censorship as well, mostly for religious purposes.

But as these governments find new ways to oppress, internet freedom advocates, find new ways to circumvent the oppression. Unfortunately, those seeking access to the internet usually are not as well funded as those seeking to oppress.

Just as it funded free speech initiatives like the Voice of America during its Cold War with the Soviet Union, the United States spends large sums of money each year to fund internet freedom advocacy groups who provide the proxy tools and other technology to help those in need circumvent the government firewalls.

However, like just about every other important issue the United States is facing, its massive debt is putting the internet freedom initiative in peril. At a time when the demand for the initiative is at its greatest — the demand is so huge for the proxy tools that, without additional funding to increase speed and access, its current capability is overwhelmed — cuts to the program are inevitable.

In the coming months and years, how will these cuts affect the censored and oppressed, and especially those fighting for their lives in places like Syria where their information campaign, a campaign that relies primarily on twitter and youtube postings, is crucial to making and keeping the world aware of their very real struggle for freedom?