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[Opinion] Chimerica

Posted November. 18, 2008 03:10,   


The United States showed U.S.-style protocol at the Group of 20 financial summit in Washington. The leaders of China and Brazil sat beside President George W. Bush in a White House dinner Friday and the photo shoot at the general meeting Saturday, reflecting their importance to Washington. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country is this year’s chair of the European Union, sat three seats to Bush’s left, and the prime ministers of Japan, the United Kingdom and Germany, whose countries are members of the G8, stood in the back row in the photo op. Korean President Lee Myung-bak, though not in the center, stood in the front row, showing higher U.S. regard for Korea.

A protocol is a set of rules that must be respected among countries or in an official event hosted by a country. The basic principle of a protocol starts with the ranking of participants. For this reason, in the run-up to the G20 summit, countries fiercely competed behind the scenes for position. The Korean Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry was concerned over where President Lee would be seated as the leader of the world’s 13th-largest economy.

China, however, was excited. Chinese media said China is no longer an outsider to the G8, even using the new term “Chimerica,” referring to a new era of coexistence beginning between Washington and Beijing. Chimerica was coined by Harvard University professor Niall Ferguson and Free University of Berlin professor Moritz Schularick. Ferguson said cooperation between China and the United States has been the growth engine of the global economy over the past decade. The two countries account for 13 percent of global territory, a fourth of the world population, and a third of global GDP.

The problem is that China’s power and influence will grow further. Ferguson said in September that the Chimerica era will end in the near future, and China will surpass the United States in two decades. That means the emergence of “Pax Sinica,” an era where the world order will be under the influence of China. Some say China will play a central role in East Asian diplomacy under the Obama administration. The United States has apparently begun preparing for the “China era.”

Editorial Writer Bhang Hyeong-nam hnbhang@donga.com