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China and United States:

Friends or rivals?

Alonso Pamo


Professor J. C. Larsen

November 15, 2010

China and United States: Friends or rivals?

China and the United States share, among other things, the title of “world power”. Because of that, each one of their movements are being closely observed by the entire world and they are often a way to respond to a movement madeby the other one first.

They come from very different backgrounds as nations, and of course this influences the way they see the world. China is a civilization of more than 4000 years, while the United States has only lasted a few centuries. If we think about it, most of the inventions we use today, like paper, gunpowder or rockets, are Chinese creations; but these inventions helped the U.S.expand and become what it is today; and whether we like it or not, the future of both countries is linked.

China's political system, for over six thousand years was a hereditary monarchy; with a rural economy, supported with the Emperor's landholding and the contributions, that the population under his jurisdiction was obliged to pay. They were also forced to provide military support whenrequired.[1] To become a nation, China had to go through a very cruel civil war, which faced the national party, who wanted a modern, democratic state in China; against the Communist Party. As a result, the People´s Republic of China lost Taiwan and other territories and kept being, until now, a one – party, Socialist State “headed by a Democratic Dictatorship"2 under the rule of the Chinese CommunistParty.

The United States, on the other hand, comes from a colonial past. When America was discovered, the territory of what later became The United States was mostly uninhabited, except by natives. Europeans saw the advantages that this land had to offer and started a process of colonization. Spain was the first to establish colonies, but adventurers from different european countries arrived;Dutch, Swedish, English, German, Irish, etc., each group had different customs and built the new colonies according to their own social, religious, political and economic styles.3

These colonies were used to govern themselves, so they were trained in self governance, policy making and related issues. That is why, when after the Revolution, they were asked to write their constitutions, they did itreflecting in them, the impact that democratic ideas had had on the formation of every state. Since then, The United States has been a constitutional, federal Republic; claiming to be the biggest defender of democracy and human rights of the world.4

These two different origins are responsible for the different paths these countries followed to become the world power, each one of them istoday. For a very long part of their history, China and the United States were enemies; but history has showed them that they are better off being cordial, than fighting each other.

When talking about their economies, they have different origins too. China started as a weak economy, in a country with many social conflicts. But the Chinese government took control of the economy; consumption wasreduced and the obtained resources were invested to build new factories. These structural changes and governmental reforms, meant the almost total suppression of the private sector, but they helped China, not only to escape poverty, but to become the world’s second-largest economy. China wanted to show the world, that it was possible to establish a market economy within a socialist government; and ithas done so5.

Historically, the U.S. economy has been one of the most stable economies and its currency: the american dollar is one of the world's strongest currencies. The American economy has been characterized by the minimal intervention of the government which is only accepted to maintain law and order. The United States are the best representatives of capitalism and free trade, all...
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