Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Times change

I am part way through a International Political Economy course. My current assignment is regarding US economic hegemony. Which is interesting to me, especially living in Central America. There is a huge US influence here, the dollar is widely accepted alongside national currencies and in Panama the dollar is the national currency.
What is more interesting is the growing Chinese influence here. The new national stadium is being built in San Jose, free of charge, by the Chinese government as a gift to Costa Rica, and I heard a new fleet of police cars were donated. Since the Monroe Doctrine the US has ruled the roost in Latin America, now China is making inroads in to that domination. Access to Latin America's raw materials has always been a goal for the powerful nations, China is just the latest in a long line.

Costa Rica also used to have close ties to Taiwan, and recently switched to deal with China. Certainly this offers more opportunities for CR, and no doubt the promise of Chinese aid played a role in this.

The Japan Times has a different take...

It's a Global Century, not an Asian Century | The Japan Times Online

"Perhaps the coastal areas of South Korea, Japan, Vietnam and China's eastern seaboard share some common cultural characteristics and a similar economic strategy. But much of central and western China is mired in poverty; Indonesia belongs to a different world culturally and economically; and India is a very different Asia as well. Nor does Asia cohere politically; parts of it are democratic, other parts are ruled by despots.

Moreover, there is no "Asian" economic system: China's state capitalism does not belong to the same category as the private capitalism practiced in Japan and Korea. India remains largely an agricultural economy, dotted with small business and service-sector dynamism.

Asia also has no decision center, nor coordinating institutions comparable to NATO or the European Union. This is important, because, whereas the West is relatively at peace with itself, Asia is riddled with actual conflicts (within and around Pakistan) and looming ones all around the South China Sea."

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