‘Who shall be greatest?’

As the race for global dominance gallops ahead, the United States and China jockey for position. Some match-ups in this race are easy to handicap. For instance, take the educational ranking of student test scores in fields such as math and science. In a test of 15-year-olds from many countries, the US ranked 17th in science and 25th in math. Shanghai ranked first in both. The competitive rankings become more complex and perhaps more subjective in fields such as politics, economics, and national defense. 

And then there are the rankings where being first is a minus, not a plus. Who pumps the most carbon into Earth’s atmosphere? Who is the deepest in debt? Who has locked up the most Nobel peace prize winners?   

In nation-to-nation relations, as in person-to-person relations, things tend to go better, and friction points tend to grow smaller, when a who-shall-be-greatest mentality doesn’t take over. Without that self-serving mentality, the tactics of businesses in both nations are likelier to steer clear of corrupt practices—such as stealing industrial secrets, or the pirating of copyrighted material. The diplomatic settling of mutual concerns still figures in. The ideal of shared problem-solving still flourishes. 

This is the end of the issue. Ready to explore further?
March 21, 2011

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