Big Brother (In-Law)

Yet another example of how carbon energy resources are allowing repressive regimes to persevere, resisting pressure to become less odious from outside and within. Burma’s military junta, truly one of the most despicable authoritarian regimes in the world, takes little notice of American sanctions imposed to protest its jailing of democracy activists because it has its “brother-in-law,” China, to take care of it and exploit its carbon wealth. Note the rise of China as both a ravenous new consumer of carbon-based energy, thus raising its value, and the alternative customer of choice to the United States for those governments that would prefer not to have any questions asked about their human rights record.

Quite simply, China is positioning itself to become the 21st century’s illiberal superpower. Whether it can continue to grow in wealth and influence without its own authoritarian system collapsing from within is the attendant question. Meanwhile, America and the global economy’s reliance on carbon-based energy is empowering a creepy set of oleaginous authoritarians. For essential further reading see “Crude Awakening,” Joshua Kurlantzick’s superb article in The New Republic (sorry, behind subscriber wall) on the emergence of this “axis of oil.”

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Explore posts in the same categories: Burma, China, Politics of Oil

One Comment on “Big Brother (In-Law)”


  1. […] China comes to Africa offering aid without conditions. As Traub notes, China’s official Africa policy seeks “a new type of strategic partnership [which] respects African countries’ independent choice of the road of development.” (Read: We do not care about human rights. We do not care about good governance. We abhor transparency.) This is how, as my thought-partner noted, China is positioning itself to become the 21st century’s illiberal superpower. The story of Angola overlaps with the stories of Sudan, Zimbabwe, Eritrea, and elsewhere. […]


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