Monthly Archives: August 2009

Dragonbeat is off this week, but will return with some thoughts on Tuesday September 8.

By Arthur Kroeber

Is China turning into Russia? After last month’s arrest of the head of Rio Tinto’s iron ore business in China, reportedly on suspicion of spying, one could be forgiven for thinking so.

By Russia, we mean a country in which ordinary commercial negotiations are routinely subject to interference by state security forces, where foreign companies face constant risk of arbitrary abrogation of contracts and expropriation of assets, and business executives quite rationally fear for their liberty and occasionally their lives.

Fortunately, it appears that a lot of people within the Chinese government were asking exactly the same question, and desperately trying to convince their superiors that the correct answer ought to be “No.”

By Arthur Kroeber

“China’s spirit”, opined the People’s Daily in a recent editorial, is a “Great Wall” built to ward off global crisis.

In purple prose heralding China’s recent heroic successes, the editorial extols the Communist Party for leading China back from the global economic abyss after the country recorded 7.9 per cent growth in the second quarter of this year.

“This situation in China is in sharp contrast with Western developed nations, where the economic growth has kept sliding,” it concludes.

The nauseating tone of the editorial reminds us of a famous quotation by the Roman historian Livy, explaining why the Carthaginian commander Hannibal failed to destroy the Roman Empire.

“Capua was Hannibal’s Cannae,” Livy wrote. It is a judgment that China’s leadership (and smug editorial writers) would do well to heed today.

Dragonbeat is no longer updated but it remains open as an archive.

Readers of the Dragonbeat blog can now go to www.ft.com/dragonbeat to read the new Dragonbeat weekly column for insightful commentary and analysis on China.

Full list of the FT’s blogs