Going West by Mark Powers

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Change is in the air....

Here is a great news article from Yahoo! news :Iraqis have money but lack know-how in spending it What's really funny is that the problem is the Iraqi government has money, but is having trouble spending it. SO... the US Government is sending advisers over there to help them out. I can imagine many you see the irony in this.

I don't want my blog to be a political platform, so I will refrain from further elaborating, but what a problem to be in, "too much money". From the news I read nowadays, it seems there is a lot of fear out there about the direction of the economy, and rightly so.

Singapore is technically in a recession. The economic growth went backwards again in the last quarter, a whopping negative five percent! A recession is defined as two quarters of negative growth. The US looks headed in that direction. Despite Singapore having a relatively strong financial base compared to other SE Asian countries, the Singapore dollar has been weakening against the US dollar. It seems that even though the US is ground zero for the credit crunch and economic turmoil, people believe the US Dollar is still a safer place to be than currencies of small and developing nations.

Though I live in Singapore, I miss China quite a bit. To alleviate my feelings I bought a couple books on China recently. One book, called "China - Land of Emperors and Dragons" was a brief history of China from the first dynasty of a unified China (Qin Dynasty) through the present. Though I've read books on Chinese history before, the events and people are so interesting and dramatic, and the turmoil, the battles, the heroes and ladies, the fools and betrayals.... no comic book or movie could capture it all. I think that is what many western tourists are looking for when the visit China today. Glimpses of that amazing past.

I hurts me though to read the terrible role westerners played in Chinese history in the last century. From forcing the Chinese to import opium, to blackmailing the emperors, to having western armies ride roughshod into Beijing and destroying some the China's greatest palaces, and outright thievery as some westerners stole and looted Chinese historical treasures is truly shameful. It reminds me in a way of how the Europeans came to Americas and brazenly killed and removed the natives for their treasure and land.

I truly believe China was in for the same fate if they didn't stand up for themselves. I can sympathize with periods in Chinese history where they wanted the foreigners out of their country and wanted to be self-sufficient. However, history has shown that doesn't work very well.

One of my favorite lines from Chinese literature comes from the first sentences in the first paragraph in the Three Kingdoms, a Chinese masterpiece written centuries ago...

"The world under heaven, after a long period of division, tends to unite; after a long period of union, tends to divide. This has been so since antiquity."

Chinese history is the history of the rise and fall of kingdoms and dynasties in Far East Asia. I guess that citizens of the Roman Empire or the Tang Dynasty, great empires in history, could hardly imagine their civilizations would fall and new ones reborn on their ashes. It makes me wonder about the world today, are we in the midst of a great destruction of a society giving birth to new one which will take its place? Maybe not a wholesale destruction, but maybe in bits and pieces. This change seems to take place violently, if not in weapons, then in some form, maybe even money, or stocks and bonds. I watch the world with bated breath.


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