The Deep Roots of China's New Economic Nationalism

By Liu, Melinda | Newsweek International, April 6, 2009 | Go to article overview

The Deep Roots of China's New Economic Nationalism


Liu, Melinda, Newsweek International


Byline: Melinda Liu

The mood in china appears to be reaching a tipping point, as its normally bland leaders abandon cautious diplo-speak under the pressures of the global financial crisis. First, they blamed American capitalism for the crisis and Premier Wen Jiabao publicly pressed Washington to ensure the safety of some $2 trillion in U.S. debt held by Beijing. Then Central Bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan called for replacing the greenback with a new reserve currency controlled by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), a move that would assure the long-term decline of the dollar. All this signals an increasingly assertive economic nationalism, and it is only the tip of the iceberg.

Even harsher statements are coming from a rising group of nationalist intellectuals in China. One of the most prominent, Wang Xiaodong, says China should simply stop buying U.S. Treasuries and put more money into domestic infrastructure, defense and social security--a move that could quickly turn America's recession into a depression. And he rejects the Central Bank governor's idea of creating a new reserve currency run by the IMF as too advantageous to America. "Isn't the IMF also under the control of the United States?" he asks with a conspiratorial grin.

As the global economic crisis bites deeper, such provocative ideas strike a chord. Wang is one of five authors of a new book, "Unhappy China," which sold 100,000 copies in just 11 days after going on sale in mid-March. …

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