Mercantile

Interesting article over on Satyajit Das’s blog on China and its place in the global economy today – especially the opening insight:

China’s economic model is reminiscent of 17th century mercantilist policies. Thomas Mun, a Director of the East India Company, in England’s Treasure by Foreign Trade (1664), wrote that the purpose of trade was to export more than you imported. At the same time, a country should amass foreign ‘Treasure’ that would be the basis of acquiring foreign colonies to allow control of essential natural resources. The strategy required reducing domestic consumption and imports and export of goods manufactured with imported foreign raw materials.

While these days it’s no longer fashionable or politically acceptable to have total control over a sovereign nation, I have to wonder how much Australia is caught in the foreign colony honey trap of China.

With China now our dominant trading partner and Chinese money gradually buying up Australian companies left and right, and the rumoured extent of Chinese investment in Australian real estate driving house prices here, how much have we tied ourselves to the Chinese bandwagon voluntarily and how much of it is through a state-sponsored mercantile policy reminiscent of the European powers in the 17th and 18th centuries?

Will history repeat so soon? I guess it’s an invitation to the question, is the 20th century and its drive for equality and democracy globally ultimately a blip in the history of hierarchical power which ultimately amounts to feudalism?

Discuss.