Celebrating Sultan Mehmed II’s Conquest on Memorial Day

Ceremonies for the 558th anniversary of the conquest of Istanbul started at Belgratkapı at Zeytinburnu in Istanbul.


Ceremonies for the 558th anniversary of the conquest of Istanbul started at Belgratkapı at Zeytinburnu in Istanbul.

“There are some, my family among them, that think I am stubborn……….”  If that is not the exact quote, it is close; it was my brother’s opening sentence at our mother’s memorial service.  I never think of myself as being stubborn, but sometimes when I get a thing in my head, I can’t seem to let it go and frequently shake and worrying it like a dog with a bone; the changing world order and the rise of the China is one of those ideas.

There have been other changes of world order in the history of human civilization and these weekend marks one one of them.  Five hundred and fifty eight years ago, the city of Constantinople nee-Byzantium fell to the Ottomans on May 29th – another Memorial Day era change; the fall of the city marked not just an era, but of an empire.  Led by Sultan Mehmed II,  the Muslim Ottomans replaced Christian Byzantines and ruled the city and much of the Islamic world from that time until the end of the First World War.  That is the traditional way for one empire to replace another with armies and battles; but in the 21st century, I think that method may be out of date.

The empire wars today are being fought with Wal-Marts and Kung Fu Pandas instead of armies.  But if you are like some members of my family and think I am being unnecessary stubborn about making this point, I encourage you to read the quotes at the end of this post.  The world order is changing and China is readying itself to be the next dominate empire in the world.  There are some differences, all previous empires considered themselves rules of the world – or the known world – but in truth they were regional super-powers in today’s world view.  And they often wanted to replace the citizens of the old enemy empire with their own. The next ruling empire will indeed encompass the known world – the surface of the planet and it will not want to kill anyone.

Here are a couple of quotes to ponder on the strategies for change in the 21st century, two from the Chinese People’s Daily and one from Al-Jazeera.  They deal with China slowly and consciously moving up the ladder of power; fully aware that it is a competition – which of course implies winners and losers – and a final victor; although no plan to force us to beleive what they beleive, or to organize our society in the same way, only to use their monetary system and buy their goods.  And now with further ado – in their words, not mine:

Prominent Chinese scholars like Xu Guoping who runs a think tank for developing nations in Geneva have called for an end to the “colonialist or neo-colonialist dogma” that guarantees an international candidate should be a US citizen or a European. “People from developing countries should be given an equal chance, particularly because the GDPs of these countries are growing ever bigger as a share of the global economy,” Xu wrote in a commentary in the Economic Observer. Not to be forgotten too, he said, was the fact that many of these countries, China in particular, had huge foreign exchange reserves. But the domestic consensus seems to be that the current IMF is not the IMF that a Chinese would like to head. Moreover, experts hold, Beijing is not ready to launch a bid for the top job yet, not the least because China’s financial system is not fully fledged. Al-Jazeera, 5-29-11

“China cannot develop without developing science and technology,” Wen stressed. “Our future relies on the future of science and technology.” He said China should pool its resources on major science and technology research programs, while making progress in the development of some strategically important new industries.  Meanwhile, China should improve the quality, performance and competitiveness of traditional industries through scientific and technological progress, he said.  He went on to emphasize that as a large nation, China should develop its own basic research and frontier research, adding, “There is no base for the innovation of science and technology, if there is no original innovation in the basic and frontier sectors.” Wen pledged that the government will provide long-term, stable financial assistance for basic and frontier research. China will set up a number of research centers with multiple tasks, based on high-level national research institutions and research-centered universities, while supporting and fostering a large number of talented people, according to the premier. People’s Daily, 5-29-11

“Containment” both as a political term and as a means to countering expansion of rivaling strengths should have put to an end, with the end of the Cold War. But since People’s Republic of China was founded in 1949, “containment” has also become the basic formula of U.S. policy toward China. This has not gone unnoticed in Beijing, as, after all, the West is still not ready to accept China’s emergence, and want to thwart its “ambitions” by containing it.  But whether the Western deep-seated preconception of “containment” can also be extended to today’s China is highly arguable. The West powers are supposed to ask some questions before wielding the stick of “containment”—-First, Is China now anything akin to Soviet Union in its heyday? Second, Is China a power to enforce “expansionism” upon others? Last, but not the least, Is China exporting its own ideology and forcing others to believe what it believes, and living and thriving on brainwashing others?  Indeed, like all the other emerging powers, China also yearns for a new world order, a change of the old international structure and a louder say on the global stage. But that does not mean China would follow in the footsteps of the former Soviet Union promoting sales its revolution to the world market, nor will China live on converting others to its beliefs. People’s Daily, 5-29-11



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