Crouching Tiger, Helpless Dragon: Why China Doesn’t Stand A Chance

Jack Denton


Imagine a game of soccer. America is the goalkeeper, and a sick one at that, trying to defend its position as the leading world power. The game has been played, and no one has yet managed to beat the USA. A similar scene occurred a while ago, when the Brits lost their own game of soccer. Now, in today’s game, India and China are in a sudden death shootout. Everyone knows that America is going to let a ball pass, and the question is: who will become the next world goalkeeper? Now, here is where it gets tricky. China has a major disadvantage in this game. A disadvantage in the form of a ball and chain branded with the word “Communism”.

 The rather clever bloke of a political scientist, named Alexander Fraser Tytler, is credited with creating what is now aptly known as the Tytler Cycle. The exact words of the cycle are pretty frumpy, as I am sure they were written in a stuffy University study, while Tytler was drinking a cup of cold Earl Grey and a stale piece of pound cake.  To paraphrase the man: Empires and civilizations are like living things, as they pass through different stages, and hit a few bumps along the way. The average life span of civilizations is approximately 200 years, but like human lives, many have lived shorter, and many longer. Some lives are more fulfilled, and some are filled with violence. Generally though, there are eight stages of life: bondage, faith, courage, liberty, abundance, selfishness, complacency, apathy, and then finally back into bondage.

 The relevance of this cycle in our modern game of soccer is that the powerful (yet strangely obese) goalkeeper that is America has progressed through every cycle step, and is finally dying (potentially of congestive heart failure that was festering in the dark depths of the economy). Across the world, academics, journalists, and other social commentators (the sports analysts, if you will) are looking to see who the next world power will be. Most people would make the jump that China will be the next world power, because it is already the economic and military powerhouse of Asia. However, here maybe most people are wrong. I am willing to bet that India will be the next USA, the next world power. Why? You ask. Well, here the proof isn’t in the pudding; it is in the Tytler Cycle.

 India rose out of bondage (under the British), to find faith (in the Ghandi-era calls to action and in the gurus who led the faithful), to courage (in setting out as an independent nation and protecting themselves against the neighboring Pakistanis). Finally, they have now reached the stage of liberty (in achieving a successful, albeit slightly corrupt democracy). We can compare this to the Chinese, who still live in bondage under the controlling communist state. China is three steps behind India.

 In order for China to be contender in this race, they have to leave behind their communist ways so that private firms can support the economy. They must also achieve world recognition in human rights, which they currently have little of.

 Abandoning communism would likely happen in the form of a revolution (possibly a volatile one), which would have disastrous effects for outside investors who have vast manufacturing empires in China. Even if democracy was achieved successfully, the new government would have to deal with the huge state-run industries which can likely only function under authoritarian rule, and could flounder in a free-market economy. As well, the country holds massive investments in African countries in the fields of forestry and agriculture. These investments technically belong to private Chinese firms, but the financial assets are those of the state, meaning that if democracy lurches in, there will be a lot of question over who owns them.

 This is vastly different from India, where a moderately successful democracy is in place. The upper-middle and ruling classes are mostly educated at Oxford, Cambridge, and like institutions, and the high ranking military officers are professionally trained at prestigious Sandhurst. Top companies invest in other markets for income, instead of relying on other companies investing in domestic markets, as China does. Thus, India is in a much better position than China to rise to world superpower-dom.

 So, what does it mean that India will be the next goalkeeper for the world? Well, it’s good for Canada. The Canadian government recently boycotted the Chinese buyout of Potash Corp, which hindered Sino-Canuck relations. As for India, Canada houses many Indian immigrants, the two countries are working together in Afghanistan against the Taliban, and we are both part of the Commonwealth Union.

 Finally, I am forced to bring up the overall cool-factor. Lets have a look at different choices in investments made by both countries: China just dumped a lot of money into a Swedish hedge fund (yawn), while the Indian firm Tata just bought out JLR (Jaguar Land Rover…the makers of very fast cars, and SUVs that farmers and warlords drive).

 Though China may be the mighty and fierce dragon in the race for the next top country, India is the cunning and powerful tiger that will take first prize.