American opinions of the Chinese in the year 2001 range from "China-bashers"
to pro-business "panda huggers." It remains to be seen whether
economics will continue to influence other serious issues.
Is China a military threat to the U.S.? Analysts say that Chinese
nationalism is on the rise and that military leaders are calling the shots.
Its navy, air force, and armored divisions are being modernized. It has
the largest army (2.9 million) in the world. And it has nuclear weapons.
Does China have the resources to strengthen its power? Oil fields
in China's Xinjiang region are potentially large enough to rival those
in the Mid-East. However, as described in the previous passage, China
is the world's "pollution superpower" and must urgently invest
in clean production technologies, energy efficiency, and renewable energy
programs to avoid environmental "meltdown." But remedies are
expensive and successful results can take decades.
Is China's huge population a problem? As of 2000, China's population
reached 1.26 billion. Increasing consumption is straining limited farmland
and water resources. The Chinese are building more factories, burning
more coal, using more water, cutting more trees, and dumping more waste.
Worldwatch Institute suggested that population growth in China could lead
to an international food crisis.
If China fails to meet these challenges, its Asian neighbors as well as Europe and America would likely be facing a sizable inflow of Chinese refugees. The 21st century may or may not be dominated by China, but its presence will be felt globally as never before.
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