4 February 2021
President Xi Jinping has installed himself as leader of China for the foreseeable future. Central to this is the domination of the Chinese Communist Party. It does not really matter what a party calls itself if it has unchallenged power. It objectives will set the policy of that nation totally.
The West has for years preached competition as the route to efficiency, but at the same time its governments have made trade deals that disfavour developing economies, and assume that their companies will be the ones getting access to markets. As they have done this, they have tended to turn a blind eye to the development of monopolies and oligopolies in the multinational companies and a blind eye to their tax avoidance; perhaps because the companies in tax havens buy US bonds as they have to store their money somewhere. Western governments have become weaker relative to multinational corporations. The Chinese model has a government able to make the rules for the whole economy and focus on priorities in a way that the West has rendered itself usable to do. This is effectively a new economic model, the implications of which do not seem to have had the attention that they deserve.
Now China is asserting itself. It has taken over Hong Kong to quell any idea of democratic movements. It is doing bad things to the Uighurs. It has fortified islands in the South China Sea. It is building its military and flying over Taiwan, which it claims is merely a wayward province, so dealing with it would be ‘an internal matter’. Most of the West has conceded that there is only ‘One China’ is order to be able to trade with China, so they will have trouble with opposing the theory of a Chinese takeover, not to mention the practicalities. China is taking a hard-line with Australia on trade, perhaps just to demonstrate its strength to and on an uppity middle power like Australia who shot their mouth off over COVID in Wuhan and would not let Huawei put in their 5G network.
But China is also preaching equality between nations, which is presumably aimed at the Third World, so that it will seem their champion against the Colonial West. It has raised many of its own people out of poverty. This may be necessary to keep its people controlled, but that policy is good. Its building of infrastructure in Africa is soft power, which looks a lot like a more modern style of colonialism; but time will tell.
The Belt and Road initiative from Beijing to Western Europe incorporating South Asia as well will take in 65% of the World’s population. It also uses local currencies and the Yuan, which effectively means it excludes the US and the US dollar, which will hugely weaken the US as its significance increases.
Here are two articles, one highly critical of China, the other overlooking its militancy.