In the Autumn of 1999, I joined a Hong Kong friend for the amazing “K98” train trip from Hong Kong north through the heart of China to Beijing, just in time for the 50th Anniversary celebration of the People’s Republic of China. It was my version of Paul Theroux’s “Riding the Iron Rooster,” and the images of China at that time still stick in my head. Since then China has changed so dramatically that those images no longer exist. Since Deng Xiaoping declared that “getting rich is glorious,” and China’s growth has skyrocketed, China’s domestic and international problems have also multiplied.
As we are now on the verge of U.S. Congressional ‘fast track” approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement, and simultaneously a severe challenge to the integrity of the European Union as Greece and the EU cannot seem to agree on terms to avoid a catastrophe, perhaps it is worth stepping back to consider these complex issues from a higher perspective. None of us has concrete answers. One thing is clear: the U.S. position as a global leader is under serious challenge.