Report and Retort: China and the Global Resource Balance

July 12, 2007 Topic: Economics

Report and Retort: China and the Global Resource Balance

Excerpts from remarks made by Ambassador Chas W. Freeman, Jr. on China's unprecedented economic boom and its global implications.

Editor's note: On July 11, 2007, Ambassador Chas W. Freeman, Jr. spoke at The Nixon Center in Washington, DC, on the subject of "China and the Global Resource Balance." Some of his comments touch directly upon questions raised by Naazneen Barma, Ely Ratner and Steven Weber in their essay, "A World Without the West ." For a full report on the event, click here.

Additional commentary on " A World Without the West "

Devin Stewart, " Alternative Leadership Still Requires Ethics ."

Ian Bremmer, " A Second Look . .  ."

Weber responds, " Facing the Reality of the 21st Century ."


. . . [T]here is no feasible alternative to working with China. The emergence of the Chinese economy as a driving factor in the global commodities trade has ended the West's ability to determine international policy with respect to global extractive industries, even as it has put an end to the efficacy of coercive sanctions not endorsed by the United States on behalf of the entire international community. The arrival of India as another huge consumer of imported resources will give the coup de grace to the age of American and European tutelage of the Third World. … To cite the example of energy: not so long ago, the 20 largest energy firms, ranked by market cap, were in the United States or Europe. Today, 35 percent originate in China, Brazil, Russia, and India.

Chinese companies are not prepared to take on a mission civilisatrice - the task of implanting their or other foreign norms on African soil so as to transform it. They promise to make Africa and other places in which they invest or do business richer. Whether or not these places also become better is - in their view - for the people who live there, not outsiders, to work out. . . .

Quite aside from the politics of Sino-African relations, their new financial aspects are impressive. The loans China offered Africa in 2006 were three times the total development aid from the rich countries that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development . . .

There is a major shift in the global balance of economic power going on; it is already evident in American and European friction with China and other non Western countries over policies toward places like Iran, Myanmar, Sudan, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. Non-Western countries, not surprisingly, feel no obligation to impose Western values or policy objectives they do not share on their trading partners. . . .

Chas Freeman, former U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is president of the Middle East Policy Council.