Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Return of the 15th Century

By Douglas Kohn
Kohn@Fordham.edu

One of the great events of the last quarter of the 20th Century was the opening up of the economies of China and India, as well as smaller economies in Asia. What the world is witnessing now is not so much something new as much as the return of normality to world economic (and consequently no doubt) political power.

For the vast portion of human history, the two largest economies in the world were those of China and India. This rule of thumb was only interrupted twice in the history of the world, both times by Western Civilization.

In the 15th Century China was by far the greatest power on earth, though technological limitations prevented much of its influence being felt in Europe. China’s navy ruled the waves in both the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and is considered by many historians to have been on the cusp of industrialization, 200 years before the same happened in Europe.

The two interruptions of Chinese and Indian dominance were the Roman Empire and the industrialization of the West. Individual Western powers became wealthier than China, and collectively the West eclipsed Chinese civilization.

There is really nothing new under the sun. The world has had Chinese and Indian dominance for most of its history, and when it comes to economic power, the creation of America was truly an unusual event in the history of the world. But now it seems that economic power will be distributed in a manner more closely aligned with population.

We are now seeing the buildup and modernization of the Chinese navy in a manner not seen since the voyages of Zheng He in the 1400s. The financial crisis and irresponsible use of American power has catalyzed the rise of China and India, in relative terms, to new heights of power and prestige.

America invented the wheel, and China’s leadership has studied its use, looked at America’s mistakes, and has perfected America’s path to development. They are using a combination of modernized mercantilist policies and economic nationalism.

The world is righting itself, and it could be very destabilizing.

1 comment:

wer kiitians said...

Thank You for the information.

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