On the other hand there is the strange sight of the US government having been shutdown for a couple of weeks and nothing really changing and people carrying on with their lives and jobs. Something equally inconceivable in China.
It is true that to an outsider nothing appears to have really changed - yet.
What is for sure is that China will not be laughing if the US defaults on its foreign debt as China are currently the ones holding the baby.
What will be the subject on a post in the near future are the Chinese plans to replace the dollar as the reserve currency - rumour, myth or reality.
What China Thinks of the Shutdown [Diplomat]
In the midst of a domestic crisis, it is easy to forget that the rest of the world is watching. Now that the U.S. federal government has shut down for the first time since the mid 1990s, the talk of the town is the political problems of the world’s largest economy and sole superpower. In China, most media reports about the shutdown have been merely informative, but every now and then they offer a rare insight into what the Chinese have learned about America’s shortcomings.
“As far as the Chinese populace is concerned, the government shutdown is like the Arabian Nights,” writes Wang Xuejing of Hong Kong Daily News. Evidently, for the citizens of a totalitarian state, the prospect of a government shutdown seems otherworldly. The newspaper Qilu Wanbao complains, “To us, far on the other side of the ocean, the information appears contradictory. Some say Americans are furious [...] Some say [everyday] life remains unchanged. Have or haven’t Americans been affected by the federal shutdown?”
The notion of a government shutdown is strange for the average Chinese person because its consequences in the People’s Republic would go far beyond closed federal agencies and parks. In mainland China, and increasingly Hong Kong, every school and every agency (national and local) answers to a party minder. Banking and internet traffic are also closely monitored by Beijing. Should the party overseers be absent one day, many organizations crucial to China’s social structure would suddenly find themselves without official guidance. The effects of such an abrupt and unfamiliar decentralization are impossible to predict.
Yet other commentators find the federal shutdown inspiring. Dr. Li Xiaohui, Assistant Professor of Law at Xiamen University writes, “The life of the average American has not been greatly affected by it and the economy has continued to grow. This reflects the clear limits between America’s government and the market. Our country should likewise move forward and decouple the government from the economy.” Similarly, the newspaper Nanfang Dushi Bao commended the strength of American society for being able to function without the government. Interestingly, while the American public sees the shutdown as a government failure, some Chinese are seeing it as a sign of efficiency. The common belief that the Chinese words for “opportunity” and “crisis” are the same, though wildly untrue, seems applicable in this case.
But aside from bewilderment and contentment over the shutdown, there is also concern in China about the possibility of a future U.S. default. At a recent news conference in Beijing, China’s Vice Finance Minster Zhu Guangyao said that the U.S. must protect its creditors, stating, “safeguarding the debt is of vital importance to the economy of the U.S. and the world [...] This is the United States’ responsibility.” Dr. Li echoed the Minister’s message, “The shutdown of the American government is a warning to our compatriots that we should optimize the allocation of our foreign exchange reserves.”
As the largest holder of U.S. debt, China unsurprisingly appears more concerned about American solvency than about the unfamiliar mechanics of a representative democracy. Despite this, China as a whole also appears to be learning a great deal from the shutdown, not only about the American political system, but also about itself and its future. As the shutdown enters its third week, it remains to be seen if America will learn something as well.