If the 20th century was about the competition between democracy and totalitarianism, the 21st century pits the excesses of consumer democracy against capable governance with too little democratic accountability.
As the symbol of ancient democracy is looking for cash, the symbol of modern democracy, the United States, is already deeply in debt to the Middle Kingdom. Indeed, in part it was the savings glut of Chinese reserves that helped inflate the mortgage bubble to the point of bursting. While Communist leader Nikita Khruschev blustered at the height of the cold war that the Soviet Union would bury the US economically, it was up to Beijing to extend it enough credit to hang itself.
And that is not all. Google, the very symbol of the information revolution, is locked in a standoff with China’s Communist rulers and their murky party hackers. And the trial run of China’s new “Harmony Express,” the world’s fastest train, took place at virtually the same time as the recent trial of human rights activist Liu Xiaobo. While the Harmony Express streaked from Guangzhou to Wuhan in less than three hours, Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in prison.
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