In this commentary, AIMS Board Chair John Risley discusses China’s increasing importance on the world stage. China alone accounts for over 50 per cent of the world’s growth in oil consumption in the past five years and is now the second largest such consumer (68 per cent of all current nickel consumption, 44 per cent of aluminum, 31 per cent of all iron ore, the list goes on). Its economy is the second largest in the world and continues to produce growth rates which are the envy of every other country.

Risley explains some of the political history of China to shed light on how it became a great power. When Chairman Mao took power in the late 1940s he restored a stable political order and unified the country (albeit after forcing Chiang Kai-Shek to flee to Taiwan). Deng Xiaoping’s leadership (from 1978 to 1992) was responsible for serious economic reform. It was his vision which understood and contemplated the use of foreign capital and modern technology, together with a new sense of engagement with the West. However, these same policies were accompanied by a continued muzzling of any opposition.

In Wow, but at what cost? Risley advocates for China to strengthen their currency, take stronger and more reasonable stances on foreign policy, and unshackle Google to allow the Chinese people intellectual freedom. The world needs China and Chinese growth, but the right sort of China.
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