Hubris will do it ever time.
The Chinese have just made a serious strategic blunder.
They dropped the mask and showed their scowling face to Asia, exposing how the Middle Kingdom intends to deal with smaller powers, now that she is the largest military and economic force in Asia and second largest on earth.
A fortnight ago, a Chinese trawler rammed a Japanese patrol boat in the Senkaku Islands administered by Japan but also claimed by China. Tokyo released the ship and crew, but held the captain.
His immediate return was demanded by Beijing.
Japan refused. China instantly escalated the minor incident into a major confrontation, threatening a cut off of Japan's supply of "rare-earth" materials, essential to the production of missiles, batteries and computers.
Through predatory trading, China had killed its U.S. competitor in rare-earth materials, establishing almost a global monopoly.
The world depends on China.
Japan capitulated and released the captain.
Now Beijing has decided to rub Japan's nose in her humiliation by demanding a full apology and compensation.
Suddenly, the world sees, no longer as through a glass darkly, the China that has emerged from a quarter century of American indulgence, patronage and tutelage since Tiananmen Square.
The Chinese tiger is all grown up, and it's not cuddly anymore.
And with Beijing's threat to use its monopoly of rare-earth materials to bend nations to its will, how does the Milton Friedmanite free-trade ideology of the Republican Party, which fed Beijing $2 trillion in trade surpluses at America's expense over two decades, look now?
How do all those lockstep Republican votes for Most Favored Nation status for Beijing, ushering her into the World Trade Organization and looking the other way as China dumped into our markets, thieved our technology and carted off our factories look today?
The self-sufficient republic that could stand alone in the world is more dependent than Japan on China for rare-earth elements vital to our industries, for the necessities of our daily life, and for the loans to finance our massive trade and budget deficits.
How does the interdependence of nations in a global economy look now, compared to the independence American patriots from Alexander Hamilton to Calvin Coolidge guaranteed to us, that enabled us to win World War II in Europe and the Pacific in less than four years?
Yet China's bullying of Japan is beneficial, for it may wake us up to the world as it is, as it has been, and ever shall be.
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