Monday, February 8, 2010

Thoughts on economical imperialism

In Violent Belongings, Kaplan talked about the universal acceptance of the word “imperialism” by the people in the U.S, regardless of their political views. Nevertheless, what the two groups of people support is the “old” imperialism that instills democracy and universal values into a foreign country so that people in that country could raise their living standard. Recently, however, media in China have shifted their focus to a new pattern of imperialism originated in the United States. This new paradigm of imperialism focuses more on economic exploitation and finance supremacy instead of physically occupying lands in a foreign country. Take one of the poorest counties in the world, Haiti, for example: in the early 1970s the president Jean-Claude Duvalier was compelled to open up the market for U.S companies. As a result, these U.S companies monopolized the production of sucrose, the exploitation of Bauxite and other essential industries of Haiti. The U.S agricultural products also flooded to Haiti thanks to Haitian’s negligible tariff, and the domestic agriculture in Haiti was totally devastated in the competition in the end. It is apparent now that this kind of economical imperialism did not help people in Haiti become wealthier; instead, those American firms did become wealthier. The same can be said to China. After the successful Genetic Modified (GM) bean campaign in Argentina in 2004, the American companies have switched their targets to China. Goldman Sachs, the well known investment bank based in Wall Street, has stepped into breeding business in China from 2004. By 2008, Goldman Sachs has become a monopoly in pork breeding industry—they have the entire production chain: from breeding, slaughtering to meat processing. Now, Goldman Sachs has the pricing right of pork in Chinese market. The soybean industry in China is faced with the same difficulty as well. 60% of Chinese farmers are now using seeds produced by the leading GM seed company, Monsanto. Most of the domestic high-quality bean species have been wiped out by farmers seeking fast profits. Monsanto is sure to raise its price for seeds in the future. Could this new imperialism of economy benefit Chinese farmers/consumers in the end? I doubt.

Whether it was neoconservative’s or liberal interventionist’s view of the "old" imperialism, the struggle for the well-being of people in other countries such as democracy and human rights is celebrated. Encountering the new pattern of economic imperialism, are they going to justify it this time?

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