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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

THE ROVING EYE: Welcome, comrade Maobama

November 18, 2009

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times
November 17, 2009

BEIJING - Dear comrade Maobama,

It's such an honor to receive you here in the
northern capital of the Middle Kingdom as you pay
tribute to the hub of the already developing 21st-century multipolar world.

Excuse us if we may diverge for a while from the
outlines of established diplomatic finesse, but
as we fully admire your integrity, honesty and
magnificent intellectual accomplishments, allow
us to address you with a measured degree of frankness.

First of all, we congratulate you for the
auspicious sales of The Audacity of Hope in the
Chinese market - 140,000 to date, and counting.
But please excuse us as you won't be able to bask
in the glow of wide-eyed, "audacity of hope"
crowds as in Berlin, Ghana, Cairo, London or
Paris. Certainly Sasha and Malia would be
thrilled if you had the chance to snap up a
commemorative comrade Maobama T-shirt in Houhai
for a few undervalued yuan. You'd definitely look
handsome in an olive-green Cultural Revolution suit and cap.

We are otherwise very pleased that you have just
described yourself as "America's first Pacific
president" - even boasting a half-brother living
in our gloriously booming special economic zone, Shenzhen.

We find a remarkable convergence between
"Pacific" and our own doctrine of heping jueqi -
"sudden peaceful emergence". We are all pacifists
at heart; if you're familiar with our doctrine
you will know how it fully spells out why China
is not a "threat" to the US. After all, our
military budget is less than 20% of your military
budget, and much less than the combined military
budgets of Japan, India and Russia.

About our pacifist strain, President Hu Jintao -
with whom you will have very detailed discussions
- made it all very clear already during the
administration of your predecessor George W Bush,
when he announced his "four Nos" (no to hegemony;
no to the politics of force; no to the politics
of blocks; no to an arms race) and his "four
Yes's" (yes to building trust; yes to attenuating
difficulties; yes to developing cooperation; yes to avoiding confrontation).

We noticed you have also chosen to define us as
"an essential partner" as well as a "competitor".
Yes, we are very competitive. It's kind of built
into your DNA when you have been a major economic
power in the world for 18 of the past 20
centuries. If the "strategic reassurance"
doctrine devised by your think-tanks works in the
sense of respecting our competitive spirit as
well as our views and customs, we certainly have no problems with that.

By the way, we're extremely pleased that you
chose Tokyo, Japan, this past Saturday to finally
reassure us that "the United States does not seek
to contain China". But we were just wondering
whether your generals - avid practitioners of the
full spectrum dominance doctrine - were listening.

Dear comrade, there are some things that we must
clarify at once. We definitely won't bow to US
pressure on our currency policy. Please listen to
Liu Mingkang, chairman of the China Banking
Regulatory Commission. He has just pressed the
fact at a forum here in Beijing that the very
weak US dollar and low US interest rates are
creating "unavoidable risks for the recovery of
the global economy, especially emerging
economies", and this is "seriously impacting
global asset prices and encouraging speculation
in stock and property markets". We're afraid
you're more part of the problem than the
solution. If you had the chance to meet average
Chinese in the streets of Beijing - oh, those
pesky security arrangements - they would ask you
why China should listen to US hectoring, when the
US prints dollars like crazy and expects China to prop them up?

For our part of the world, we hope you have the
opportunity to appreciate how sound are our
economic fundamentals - with rising industrial
production, retail sales and investments in fixed
capital, and moderate deflation, as outlined by
Sheng Laiyun, spokesman for the National Bureau
of Statistics. Our economy will grow by 8% in
2009. Why? Because we have spent the past 11
months working 24-hours a day, investing
productively in our economy, honing up our
monetary policy and launching fiscal measures to
support selected industrial sectors. We are
forecasting a consumer boom lasting up to the
next Chinese New Year on February 14, 2010. So
our priority is to keep on growing; later we may
think about devaluing the yuan.

Dear comrade, we're sure you'd marvel at the
power of our three main industrial clusters. It's
a pity you won't have time to visit the Pearl
River Delta, the factory of the world, our hub of
manufacturing and endless assembly lines. You
might catch a glimpse of the Yang-Tze Delta - the
hub of our capital-intensive industry and
production of cars, semiconductors and computers.
But if only you had enough time for a stroll in
Zhongguancun, just outside of Beijing - our Silicon Valley.

A glimpse of just one of our immense info-tech
malls, bursting with small businesses and eager,
industrious, very well-educated youth, would
imprint to you how technology has become China's
new opium (without a war attached, as the British
Empire imposed it on us in the 19th century). It
makes us dream of a time when technological
innovations originate in China and then swarm the
world. Yes, we may have a cheap workforce - but
most of all we have an extraordinarily motivated
workforce, which is regimented under good health
and education standards, has immense
self-discipline and is fully mobilized for non-stop productive ends.

Dear comrade, now onwards to some more
controversial matters. About that little war of
yours in Afghanistan. You may have realized by
now that it was China that actually won the "war
on terror". And that explains in great measure
why China is so much more influential now in East
Asia - and around many parts of the world - than the US.

You may realize that as long as the Pentagon is
fully deployed in West Asia we must be extremely
careful. We closely follow the strategies
deployed by your think-tanks. We are particularly
amused by the strategy of our old friend Dr Henry
Kissinger, who proposes to integrate China in a
reformed world order still revolving around a US
axis - after all, this still translates as US
hegemony. There are far more worrying aspects
inbuilt in the encircling of China by a system of
military bases and a strategic military alliance
controlled by the US - a new cold war in fact. We
cannot abide by it, as it will only lead to the
fragmentation of Asia and the global South.

Rest assured that we can deal with both North
Korea and Iran on our own - not confrontationally
but harmoniously. And coming back to Afghanistan,
we believe the best solution should be worked out
within the cadre of the Shanghai Cooperation
Organization (SCO) - of which ourselves and
Russia are the key co-founders. This is an Asian
problem - in terms of drug trafficking as much as
religious fundamentalism - that should be debated
and solved among Asian powers.

Dear comrade, you may have noticed that the
Washington Consensus is for all purposes dead.
What has emerged is what we might call the
Beijing Consensus. China has shown the global
South that "there is an alternative" - a "third
way" of independent economic development and
integration to the global order. We have shown
that unlike the Washington Consensus
"one-size-fits-all" package, economic development
has to be "local" in every case. Our beloved
Little Helmsman Deng Xiaoping would have called
it "development with local characteristics".

We have shown that developing states in the
global South must unite, not to hail US
unilateralism but to organize a new world order
based on economic independence and at the same
time respectful of cultural and political
differences. We have embarked on a yellow BRIC
road - and it's not only us, Brazil, Russia,
India and China, who are on to it; everybody else
in the global South is. Yet we are also aware
that the rich North will always be trying to
co-opt certain countries in the South to prevent
that hierarchical change the world can believe in
- which, as you may already know, is incarnated by China.

You may also have realized why China has
consistently beaten hands down the elitist
economic and financial institutions controlled by
the North. After all, we offer countries all over
the global South much better deals to access
their natural resources. We have been engaged in
vast, complex infrastructure projects that
invariably end up costing less than half the
price charged by countries in the North. Our
loans are more carefully targeted; they are
impervious to political misunderstandings; and
they don't come with exorbitant consultant fees attached.

You may have realized that key oil-producing
countries have re-routed their excess capacity
towards the South. Oil-wealthy countries from
West Asia have started to heavily invest in East
and South Asia some of the surplus that they
normally would have directed to the US and Europe.

You may have noticed, comrade, that the
monetarist counter-revolution is dead. So the
question now is not whether Asia, and the global
South as a whole, will continue to use the US
dollar as their exchange currency - that, of
course, will go on for years. The key long-term
question is whether they will continue to place
their excess current account balances at the
mercy of institutions controlled by the North, or
if they will instead work towards the
emancipation of the South. Your egalitarian
instincts may agree with the latter, but we are
certain the US ruling class will fight it tooth and nail.

Forgive us what may be perceived as impertinence,
comrade. Of course - taking a leaf from the great
master Lao Tzu - we are also aware of our
shortcomings. We well know that it would be
suicidal for even one quarter of our population
of 1.3 billion to adopt the mode of production
and consumption known as the American way of
life. We know that we must do more to protect the
environment. Our 2006-2010 Five-Year Plan, for
example, has made it a target to reduce energy
consumption by 20%, and our industrial policy has
shut down nearly 400 industrial sub-sectors and
restricted a further 190. We well know what's at
stake if, up to 2025, no less than 300 million
peasants transfer themselves to our cities, where
cars, including your American Buicks, already dwarf the number of bicycles.

We even acknowledge know many distortions may be
implicit in our blind reproduction of the Western
development model. To give you an example, when
our foreign visitors go The Place megamall in the
central business district in Beijing and watch
the largest suspended screen saver on Earth -
featuring computer-generated images - they
complain what a waste of energy this is. It's an
addiction for which we still have no cure. We
just can't get enough of malls - and SUVs, and
Hummers and Ferrari dealerships on Jinbao Dajie ...

We are well aware of hundreds of strikes and
widespread social turmoil happening here every
single month, involving especially the new
Chinese working class - young internal migrants -
that are the backbone of our enviable export
industry. You may not believe it in the US, but
of course there is a worker's movement in China -
not one, but many, spontaneous and relatively
unarticulated, all extremely active in virtually every city in the country.

We pay attention, and we are doing our best to
attend to their grievances. Chairman Mao always
alerted about luan - chaos - and nothing worries
us more than social revolt in urban and rural
areas. That's why we changed our policies, trying
to correct development inequalities and passing
new legislation offering more rights to workers.

At the same time, we always remember how comrade
Deng Xiaoping's reforms first and foremost had to
deal with the agricultural sector. That's why
President Hu today is so concentrated on the
development of education, health protection and
social aid in the countryside. That's how we see
the development of a "harmonious society".

To sum it all up, comrade Maobama. We really hope
you appreciate the fabulous Peking duck in the
company of comrade Hun Jintao, and that you
conduct a frank exchange of views. And by the
way, if you need a crash course on Chinese
politics, don't bother to listen to your
think-tanks; send a diplomat to a DVD shop to buy
you a (pirate) copy of Zhang Yimou's Curse of the
Golden Flower, with Chow Yun-fat and our gorgeous
Gong Li. It's all there; the cult of secrecy and
dissimulation; the logic and cruelty of competing
clans; the sense of political tragedy; and how,
in China, the raison d'etat trumps everything.
Yes, we may be a violent society after all, but
our violence is internalized. Chairman Mao's luan
is our deepest fear; we fear most what ill we can
inflict on ourselves. If we master our
self-control, then we can be a true Middle
Kingdom - between heaven and Earth. "Global
superpower" is just an afterthought.

Anyway, as comrade Deng said, to get rich is
glorious - the more so when you become the banker
of the current global superpower. We will always
be here for you when you need it - just please
refrain from asking us to devalue the yuan. May
you be blessed to conduct an auspicious and
prosperous administration, and may you and your
family live a long and fruitful life.

Respectfully yours,
The People's Republic of China
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