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West bells China and says catch the mice
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First, there was G7, the group of seven industrialized countries. Then came G8. Now the buzz revolves around G2, making it explicit that China has been recognized as a new "superpower". But China is not ready for this new status.

So what happened to all the brouhaha over G7 (or G8)? The G7 has enjoyed a free princely feast for years, and is thoroughly drunk on its importance. The US has made a mess of itself, forcing many in the West to look for a country that can help fix the problems it has created - but is unable to solve. As for G20 members, most of them are trying to solve their own problems, created by the global economic crisis. The European Union (EU), being a member of G20, would have been the ideal US partner in G2. But it is in no better shape than the US. The same is true of Japan.

So the global onus seems to have fallen on China, which with its $2 trillion foreign reserves and an amazing 8 percent growth despite worldwide recession is seen by many to have the ability to help fill the trillions-dollar black hole created by the West. It's a different matter altogether that China, as a developing country, is itself a victim of the West's economic misdeeds and is desperately trying to solve its own problems.

But why do the rich nations expect the developing world to help them out of the economic mess? Whenever developing economies have needed help to emerge out of a crisis (mostly created by the rich world), the G7 and the Bretton Woods organizations they run have prescribed bitter pills. During the Asian financial crisis, for example, the International Monetary Fund offered the "Washington Consensus" to Southeast Asian economies, which incidentally were victims of Western investment bankers and hedge fund operators' machinations. Since these bankers are at the root of the present crisis, should we prescribe the same medicine for the West: Tighten your belt and monetary policy, and let the economy just shrink and, voila! Before you know, you'll be back in good economic health.

These are not times to experiment, or prescribe the bitter pill for the West, which concocted it in the first place to con the world. But one thing is for sure, if the West does not change its extravagant consumption habit and wasteful lifestyle, it cannot emerge out of the crisis without scars.

A crisis of this magnitude can only be resolved with every player playing its role. US President Barack Obama was elected to the Oval Office on the promise of change. But do we see any fundamental change? The West has the propensity to continue with its lavish lifestyle, expecting the rest of the world to foot the bill.

American kids are taught in high schools the principle of "no taxation without representation". This is the basic tenet of "freedom and democracy" that the West wants to proselytize us with. It's high time we told the West to please walk its talk, and let responsibility start with rights.

If the West really wants China to help clear the mess it has created, it has to give the Middle Kingdom more say in matters pertaining to the global economy. But despite all the fancy talk about G2, China is still worse than a junior partner, discriminated against in many fields. Even though China is willing to loosen its purse strings and buy sick enterprises or mines, it cannot because the West won't allow it to. The sauce for the gander in this is not sauce for the goose.

What the West wants from China is: Pay as told without knowing why and for what. Why? The answer is simple: If the West goes down, China goes down too. China is supposed to play the role of a responsible stakeholder for the US and the G7, whereas in the true spirit of G2, it should be an equal partner.

There's no denying the fact that if world economy falls apart, China too will go into depression. But it can't be denied either that it will emerge stronger than others from the pit.

Of course, it's not in China's interest to see the situation deteriorate. It is willing to help too. As a true stakeholder in the global economy, it will try its best to minimize the damage caused by the industrialized West and protect itself and its neighbors, which together constitute about 60 percent of the world population. It won't do it to please the West, or to save the West from the perils of its own creation, or to become a "superpower", and that's precisely why it deserves to be treated as an equal partner by the rest of the world.

China has been playing as important a role as in many international matters, and it will work for a world without domination, a world where every country - large and small, rich and poor - will have a fair chance to develop and prosper.

Not so long ago, China was weak and poor, and its people have not forgotten what the accompanying shame, subjugation and deprivation meant. It will not collude with the US or the G7 and never become a bully on the world stage. Instead, true to what it preaches, it will endeavor to bring peace and development to every nook and cranny of the world.

The author is a member of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Basic Law Committee of the National People's Congress Standing Committee.

(China Daily May 22, 2009)

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