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Lillian Bogonko

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Can China really become a super power, or will it remain a great power among other great powers?

We have read numerous articles and statistics that indicate the rising power that is China. As an emerging economy among the BRICs, China is seen as a leader in the pack and with the number two economy, well placed to replace the US as a world hegemon.

I however wonder how much of a super power if any China can be? John Inkberry has written about the western liberal order and how it has penetrated every inch of our societies and culture. As a result many have found themselves having to preserve their cultures because the western liberal culture is very strong. Inkberry argues that China will have to find it`s influence within this set up, because it will be very hard to alter it (the western liberal order).

Is this the case? Can China become a super power in the current global order or will it have to dispose of it and come up with a different type of order or will it simply become part of the order and influence global events among other powers?

What does the future of China look like in the present western liberal order?


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    Aug 10 2012: In my view, China may become more powerful from several angles, but there is one primary factor that I think will prevent it from having the global dominance that the term "superpower" implies: its educational system, which still has a distance to go in terms of promoting critical thinking over rote memorization. There are statistics that point to growing numbers of PhDs and of patents, but it is still all based on a system that generally borrows original thinking from others and builds on it. This is a broad generalization, of course, and subject to exceptions and refutations.

    I see the outcomes of this educational approach penetrating so many facets of the Chinese culture that it will continue to inhibit many of the factors that could move China beyond merely the world's factory into true economic, intellectual, cultural, and even military dominance.

    For others that have had significant exposure to China and its people, I would be interested in hearing whether my perceptions are misguided.
    • Aug 10 2012: I agree. I also think China's growth and influence is limited by its Communist system and its lack of freedom of speech and freedom to vote etc.

      China will be strong economically and possibly militarily but outside of these domains its political system will make it more isolated than connected to the rest of the world?
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        Aug 11 2012: Hi Zdenek,
        You are right. Trust me, China is not going nowhere if the omnipresent government keeps the totalitarian policy.
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        Aug 14 2012: What yardstick are we using people. I'd like specifics. Why do we believe that democracy is the only system of government that works? The type of leadership is bound to change. The international system will ultimately influence that and whatever it may metamorphosize into may not be ideal but might just work. We have to appreciate the dynamic nature of the international system and think with that.
        • Aug 14 2012: Yes I see democracy as the only system of government that works or has the potential (because if people do not vote and engage than it will fail as well).

          Basically with any kind of repressive government (like Communism) the top ranks in the government is easily taken by the most corrupt and ruthless leaders because that is what the system allows. There are few if any controls in place to prevent this from happening.

          In democracy, politicians have to compete with each other and they are scrutinized by media and public. Everything is much more transparent. Leaders are more competent and capable. Mistakes cannot be hidden.

          Which government do you think can provide better leadership for the country?
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          Aug 14 2012: Zdenek, as always I love to read your knowledgable perspective. I agree that they are currently out of step with the unification theme but so has the USA been and they survived. They are clearly experimenting with democractic priniples at the level closest to the people and furthest from threatening the jobs of the power brokers. China is SMART! It is a chess master of a nation.

          PS this is out of sequence but the only place I could respond.
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        Aug 14 2012: I filled out a Canadian survey yesterday designed to make shipping oil to China from our oil sands. more acceptable to CanadiansWe tried to sell it to you and you decided that shipping it from your enemies and destroying other people's terrian more palitable. So now tell me that they will be isolated. Do you know where in South AMerica, they are building a new "Panama" canal? I do not see them as isolated.
        • Aug 14 2012: I think they are and will continue to be isolated in political sphere from the rest of the world. The world is slowly moving toward democratic governance and a unified global community.
    • Aug 11 2012: Eric, you seem like a smart man, and I look forward to viewing other conversations you take part in. I have a question for you, though. You mention that it's educational system lacks the focus on critical thinking, which will impede its advancement to a superpower. My question is do you feel that America's educational system is starting to fail and, if so, what will that mean for our country as we move forward into the future? What can we do to prevent a collapse of our educational system? As a father with children set to begin school this year, I am looking for answers on how to ensure the education they receive is sufficient for their success in the future.
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        Aug 11 2012: Corey,

        Great question. Good luck getting your children started in school. Mine are all grown now, with one making his own way and two more in college.

        The short answer to your question is both yes and no.

        Yes because the academic demands and time commitment we require of our children seems less than it was in the past and certainly less than many other industrialized countries. We have the shortest school year, a relatively short school day, don't typically demand a large volume of work either in terms of reading or problem solving, and we place a possibly disproportionate amount of attention on non-academic aspects of education.

        Also, yes because the push to improve academics seems to exclude areas that improve critical thinking and collaborative problem-solving (e.g. literature, arts programs)

        No because many school systems are increasing their focus on math and science, and the fact you are asking this question is an encouraging part of America's culture,which is our ability to self-criticize. This has the potential to drive significant improvements, and I'm encouraged by it.

        Impact on the future? After having read the book "Black Swan," I am hesitant to predict the future except to say that I don't currently see our deterioration in education or our high level of dependence on foreign nationals coming to our country to learn and work abating any time soon. It obviously puts us at an economically competitive disadvantage and results in an increasingly uninformed electorate, which is probably the most dangerous trend of all.

        What can you do about it? Take ownership of your children's education! Make the school system a part of their education and not its totality. Read to them, make every trip into the back yard or into town a potential learning experience, and develop a sense of curiosity in them that will cause them to succeed regardless of the quality of the public education they receive. Make them lifelong learners; not just good students.
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      Aug 13 2012: Eric one can take ownership but ultimately the government needs to put in place strong policies for a strong education system. Not every child (seeing how the American system works) will have the attention they need from their folks to excel in spite of how the education system is. That`s why people pay taxes, to get the government to take care of what they can`t individually do because of life`s demands.
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        Aug 13 2012: To ensure a child with adequate attention has barely anything to do with taxation. Taxes can guarantee a relatively affordable education with fine education groups and facilities, but it doesn't mean a great education for everybody. Some children commit acts of truancy and profanity and they only regard schools as amusement parks. Even attention cannot guarantee an excellence for students, and what they really need is a better education environment, which includes the promotion of positive critical thinking and proper impetus from family. Kids often learn the most important things with their parents after all.
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          Aug 14 2012: It does not negate the fact that the gov has a responsibility to create a system of education that will not just churn out robots but critical thinkers and all rounded graduates.
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        Aug 14 2012: Sure. But choices lay in our own hands. The government can do whatever to promote the critical thinking and try to create a more outspoken environment, but we can choose to ignore it, proceed it like writing an essay in a certain format, or fulfill it because we think this is important to do. The government is not omnipotent after all.

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