One last sliver of what the Chinese Communist Party will certainly call "the good ol' days" popped up this morning amidst the gloom of the new reality: Communist China passed Germany in 2007 to become the third largest economy on the planet (BBC and CNN). Now only the United States and Japan can claim larger economies.
I'm sure it was quite nostalgic for the cadres, as they continue to face the effects of a crippling economic slowdown (Guardian, UK) and an ever-increasing resentment of Communist corruption (Epoch Times).
In fact, the battle between past and present was the prominent theme of today's collection of news. Regarding relations with the United States, the cadres put the halcyon past on display once more - marking the 30th anniversary of the official establishment of diplomatic relations (Bloomberg). They even got the usual throw-Taiwan-under-the-bus language from their American guests. Meanwhile, Dr. Henry Miller detailed how Communist corruption has literally poisoned Sino-American trade relations of multiple levels in the Washington Times.
Even the shibboleths of the recent past are crumbling. President Bush still hasn't left office, yet the world-hates-America theme is already being debunked (Weekly Standard) - to the point that "polling data from the Pew Research Center shows that the United States still has approval ratings of more than 50% across Asia, giving it a more positive reputation than China" (Weekly Standard Blog). Ouch!
Not that recent events have been all bad for the Communists. Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton's tough words on the cadres' Korean colony (One Free Korea) were a painful reminder of how far we have fallen from the time when such words were commonplace - and credible (OFK). The viceroy has even gone so far as to pick his successor, we think (OFK).
Still, it should be clear that things are different now. Foreign investment is drying up, the ability to buy off the various elites who would otherwise form an anti-Communist civil society is vanishing, more Americans are seeing the regime as an immediate, personal threat due to poisoned exports, and the rest of the world (particularly Asia) has recovered as healthy perspective on Zhongnanhai and Washington. The trends that pointed to the CCP's ascendancy on the world stage have suddenly shifted. We will see if the CCP adapts before the Chinese people are able to notice.