An old tent and the new buildings

Is the Western liberal order likely to accommodate China’s financial projection?

Elizabeth C.  Economy, Senior Fellow and Director of Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, recently wrote in Asia Unbound (13 November 2014) that “ the United States won big this week, but not for the reasons most people think” regarding last week’s deal on carbon emission cuts. For her, “media and China analysts have focused overwhelmingly on the climate deal, touting the new commitments from both the United States and China as exceptional, even “historic. ” But, Ms. Economy argues, “ this is missing the forest for the trees. The real win for U.S. President Barack Obama is keeping China in the tent or, in political science speak, reinforcing Beijing’s commitment to the liberal international order.”

Yet, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of a tent is “ a collapsible shelter of fabric (as nylon or canvas) stretched and sustained by poles and used for camping outdoors or as a temporary building.”

Should we—Ms. Economy’s attentive readers—believe that the western liberal international order is a tent, a collapsible shelter, or a temporary building, and is it ready to accommodate the large and voluminous China?

Should we—Ms. Economy’s attentive readers—believe that China’s 27.8 percent share of the total world GDP growth this year and a 15 percent of the almost 1,000 initiatives proposed in Brisbane by G20  members  to achieve a 2 percent growth target for G20 economies, are just China’s fee for getting a  chair in the Western liberal tent? Or, are these numbers to be read in a rather different way, as China’s resolve  to  set  up   the new buildings of the new  global financial power?

Why, indeed, should China be content to stay in a narrow and collapsible tent, when she is preparing to enjoy a large, global architecture?

Footnote: Elizabeth C. Economy  Obama’s Big China Win at APEC: Not What You Think. Asia Unbound, Council on Foreign Relations 13 November 2014.