China is growing at around 9 percent in spite of the crisis. More than 1.3 billion Chinese are galloping across the field of the world economy. For today, China is a one party capitalist dictatorship. From the economic point of view, communism has been wiped out in this gigantic Asian nation. The China of Hu Jintao looks more like the China of Chiang Kai-Chek than the China of Mao Tse-Tung. It is closer, distances aside, to Franco’s Spain than Stalin’s Russia. Since people tend, though in a zig-zag line, to move toward liberty, the yellow colossus will in the near future suffer political dislocations in the direction of democracy. In any case, in twenty or possibly thirty years, China will be the number one world economic power, building on a population of over 1.5 billion people. The United States of Europe will perhaps have 500 million inhabitants by that time. Economically, a united Europe will occupy a modest third place behind China and America, assuming that India does not pass us as well.
Obama has learned to hear the cry of the Orient. Oswald Spengler was right when he announced the decadence of the West. Arnold J. Toynbee coldly declared China’s superiority in the 21st century. The American president knows that, in the near future, the destiny of the world will be decided by China and the United States. Europe does not count. This was already seen in Copenhagen. Obama has understood that, after the Cold War and the defeat of the Soviet Union, the American empire must reach an understanding with China in order to maintain the global equilibrium. Washington still holds the winning cards, mainly due to a powerful economy, which is still unbeatable. Its military superiority is overwhelming, even if it is primarily technological. China will need many years to pass the United States, but it is on the way.
At the end of World War II, with the victory of England and the apotheosis of that great 20th century genius, Winston Churchill, the British imperial juggernaut sunk. It rose again with the United States’ empire, over Soviet Russia and an awakening Asia. Sixty years later, Washington’s ostensible key partner, a united Europe, holds no fundamental interest for Barack Obama.
The young American president has already made unmistakable gestures to the world that is coming. The cry of the East deafens those who do not follow the example of Lot’s wife. China is triumphant and India is warming up. In 1940, Hitler proposed to Churchill the division of the world into two empires: British and Nazi. The English leader had the vision to stand on the side of freedom and oppose Hitler’s atrocities. Thus, a new and different world began to take shape. Now the pins on the international political map have moved and today, at the start of 2010, old models no longer apply. The president of the United States seems prepared to leave Europe on the sidelines, turning America’s energy toward a future understanding with China.
Luís María Anson is a member of the Spanish Royal Academy.
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