26 September, 2020

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In The Long-Run, The US Cannot Contain The Rise Of China: America’s New Cold-War: The Balance Sheet

By Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

A new cold-war has been declared. Mike Pompeo launched the first fusillade on 23 July and formerly asked the world to “distrust” China and called for a grouping of nations in an anti-China alliance. He demanded the overthrow of the Chinese state: “The world cannot be safe until China changes . . . the world must change the Chinese Communist Party, or China will change us as is happening in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang . . .  Xi Jinping is not destined to tyrannize inside and outside China forever, unless we allow it . . . it is time for a new grouping of like-minded nations, a new alliance of democracies”. If ever there was a declaration of cold-war this is it! Phrases used by Pompeo include: “Frankenstein China”, “communist cover-up of the virus”, “distrust and verify” and “securing our freedoms from the Chinese Communist Party is the mission of our time”. The world is engaged in a new strategic ball-game and Sri Lanka will be entangled

The US perspective is consolidation of a ring of military steel round China. In the mind of Trump-Pompeo the technique used to achieve the fall of the USSR can be repeated. The Soviet economy was technologically and managerially backward, the Eastern European regimes were hated, neoliberalism had weakened Soviet power especially defeat in Afghanistan, and the Sino-Soviet split had debilitated communism. The rigid and grossly inept centrally directed economic system was not delivering nor was it up to the challenges of global competition. It was a half rotten low-lying fruit ready to fall. Regan’s star-wars challenge was too pricy to compete against. Gorbachev’s bungling created fissures through which popular uprisings overthrew the regime. But the big difference is that the USSR’s was a sick and hobbled economy, China’s is strong and robust. The pocket book talks louder than the diplomatic megaphone. China’s rise as an economic force is relentless and Asians have adjusted; even those with no affection for Beijing.

Whether Bidden-Harris or Trump-Perry win it will make little difference to international policy. (There will be domestic policy differences but don’t hold your breath). There will be no difference in Middle East, trade and China policy. There is bipartisan determination to roll back China. Both Dems and GOP are fearful of its rise to economic supremacy and its climb up the military ladder. Pompeo may be a worst-case cold-war freak but there is bipartisan support for the overthrow the PRC state and using Hong Kong as a Trojan Horse. (See video here and article here)

The QUAD strategy

The US and UK are working in collaboration. India is in the game for its own purposes which dovetails into the cold-war QUAD strategy (India, US, Japan and Australia). America is also coordinating a six-nation alliance – QUAD plus Australia and Canada. West Berlin, physically deep in East German territory, was a dagger in the heart of the wounded animal – propaganda, espionage, escape routes. The US-UK approach is to use Hong Kong in the same way. Money is in abundance while propaganda and training flow in through its open borders. But it won’t work because China’s economy is strong, American finance capital in decline. The Communists are moderately popular for material achievements, like pulling 600 million out of poverty. To destroy this state is impossible, but it is possible to make life uncomfortable for Beijing in global hard and soft power stakes. 

It is colossally stupid of China to be drawn into skirmishes with India on remote Himalayan glaciers, whoever is right or wrong. After the 1962 fiasco China has no option but to avoid skirmishes even if it has to concede territory. China’s other ailment is again territorial greed; it throws its weight around the South China Sea bullying Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan and tiny Brunei. Geopolitically it is seen in poor light because of aggressive rampaging. Chinese zealots feel they can do no wrong, maybe “If Adam and Eve had been Chinese, we would all still be living in paradise”. If China gets its nose bloodied in these regional encounters I will be pleased. The new security laws to eliminate rioting and treason in Hong Kong was necessary, but repression of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang is inexcusable. Nevertheless, this cannot be generalised into support for the US cold-war agenda. 

For what ungodly reason did China initiate a border war with India in 1962? A dispute over the sovereignty of remote border regions. Even if Mao believed this territory was legitimately Chinese, military action was unforgiveable. Initiated by China the war was a huge foreign policy faux pas that bedevils relations to this day. India would not be sucked into the US laid quagmire now but for border conflicts.  Indians feel that they cannot shy away from China containment. To add burlesque, India has banned 120 Chinese Apps, even children’s videos, for “strategic” reasons!

The depth of China hate among Indian scholars is on display in this quote: “The People’s Republic of China ruled by the communist party is an evil, inhuman and corrupt political entity, committed only to the expansion of the power and wealth of its leadership” and the writer adds “the leadership is on a mission to become the sole superpower with the rest of the world as vassals the Chinese empire” – Gurvinder Singh.

Is China cornered?

China’s economic power, aid and development reach outdo America’s; its economic clout is too big and its diplomatic footprint too large for America to contain. It accounts for one-third of global growth; its trade with Asian nations exceeds its trade with any other bloc; its intra-Asian trade is greater than Asian trade with the rest of the world. The West’s share of the global economy is shrinking and will continue to do so. The longer-term disparity is starker. The IMF projects that, by 2024 China’s contribution to global growth would exceed 28%, while that of the US would fall from 13.8 to 9.2%. Huawei stunned America with its stellar leap into the 5G stratosphere. The US produces half-a-million STEM graduates a year, China 4.5 million. The US is pressuring the world to roll back top Chinese technology but is it doable? Can one make water flow upstream? 

China however is isolated compared to the large compact of sytates that the US has cobbled together; it needs allies, not only economic ones. Is the dispute with India irreversible, can it draw Vietnam, Indonesia and those on the Belt closer and can it loosen the US grip on Japan and S Korea? Former prime minister Kevin Rudd observed that an official Australian delegation poured “buckets of cold water on participation on contingency planning”. Asia recognises that the poise of the global order has changed and that China’s rise – backed by economic and military capability – must be accommodated. The Philippines and Vietnam have shifted strategy, markedly. China has already achieved parity with the US in several military modernisation areas and is likely to double its nuclear warhead stockpile over the next decade according to a 2020 Pentagon report. Beijing is thinking long-term, as Chinese are wont to do; America’s obsession with quick fixes won’t do. The Chinese will not rule the world one day in the future, but a far more multipolar order is a certainty within less than a generation.

[Next week I will have a follow up on the implication of this new cold war for Sri Lanka and explain why in my view we are overestimating our strategic importance for all players except India]

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Latest comments

  • 4
    0

    Trump has two hates: China and Obama, not sure in which order. And, if he wins again in November, or retains power by hook or by crook, he will push China to war. He might even start a conflict with China before the election, so he could be a “war time” President and continue in power.

    Chinese troops aren’t trained to fight, and will get the shit kicked out of them. Interesting times ahead.

    • 5
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      SP
      I am not sure if the US wants war right now. But provocation will continue.
      If there is a WW3, the wartime presidency may be too shortlived, for the war will be deadlier than anything before it and will not go on for years.
      *
      To Trump, Obama is history and he is only insulting the ‘dead’ with his acts of pettiness.

    • 4
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      Sarath P,
      “Chinese troops aren’t trained to fight, and will get the shit kicked out of them. Interesting times ahead.”
      You ought to read up on the Korean War, way back in 1950. This is 2020.
      Still, the Chinese aren’t led by idiots like Trump.

      • 0
        3

        OC
        I wonder if the Vietnamese were better trained than the Chinese!
        They did a more impressive job.

        • 3
          0

          S.J,
          Everything is subject to change. In the early 70’s China was a newfound US friend and India the enemy. Who knows what will happen next year?

          • 1
            0

            OC
            True.
            But things are changing much faster than our constitution for analysts to cope.

  • 1
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    Any nation which has the resolve, productivity and other attributes cannot be beaten by others although in this globalized world it can be made uncomfortable. But any nation must not overdo itself because it could be the beginning if the end. Therefore, every nation must know its limits. The prayer composed by Niebuhr in its original form “Father, give us courage to change what must be altered, serenity to accept what cannot be helped, and the insight to know the one from the other.” is true for a nation as well.

  • 5
    5

    Prof. Kumar David,
    .
    Yep….
    .
    Maybe the same way you got “JVP president” and “JVP controlled” parliament.

    • 4
      5

      Pasqual
      If you do not understand, why don’t you shut up and wait, you Rajapuke pimp

    • 4
      4

      We can be proudof Prof. Kumar David being a son of the soil for holding the world record for political predictions. None will ever beat in accuracy: 51% to 3%!

      Soma

  • 2
    1

    Either way SL is safe and will be with the superpower. Impunity will continue.

  • 7
    1

    “After the 1962 fiasco”
    Rather glib I would say.
    Whose fiasco was it really, may I ask Professor David.
    I can refer him to a lot of well documented analysis by AG Noorani in thew Fronline over a long period early this century.
    Nehru’s arrogance prevented him from even discussing proposals put forward by Zhou Enlai more than once to end the dispute by negotiation.
    There were other issues at stake too, like Tibet and road access to Tibet.

  • 2
    1

    You will need the assitance of the enemy to attack the enemy.
    Countries of an anti china alliance will have to bargain for a grace period to adjust themselves for China independent economies. Australia will have to find new markets for coal and all varieties of mineral ore , beef and other agricultural products and new sources for solar panels until India is ready to fill the required volume. Apple will need a couple of years to set up manufacturing plants elsewhere and India will have to import raw materials from moon for a briefperiod for its gigantic pharmaceutical industry.

    Soma

  • 0
    0

    Prof, though certain facts are true, I disagree with your article in that China too is responsible for the current dispute. . In fact China was given enough opportunities to play fair and square. I lived in U.S for about 20 years since 1990 and there was never such anti China policy, if at all trade grew up to many hundred folds,always to the advantage of China to the tune of more than 750 billion annually. IBM sold PC to Lenovo, and recent sale of Motorola Mobility too are proof. China never opened its currency for trade,artificially manipulating and kept it low for trade advantage, the competing companies were never a level playing field because most are supported by the PRC, Every agreement they signed was to manipulate and exploit further. Just look at the each contract they made in Lanka which are only beneficial to them. They abused friendship to exploit markets, dump goods, steal Technology and worse break into the internal security system. Eventually it is Trump who decided to take action, unfortunately with his typical hypocrisy and overkill.The reason China does not have a true alliance is because of the distrust they have earned. Countries who are with them today are in turn forced by their economic burden and debt,not because of trust.

  • 1
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    If one looks at the total picture, sad to state that Trump’s claims are valid. China’s trade practices are crooked to say the least. It is time that world realizes the fact and address it now before it is too late. Trump’s initiative to develop many other countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Philippines, etc as production centers instead of depending on China is commendable. (sad that SL is not named among those countries). China is like the ‘Hettiyas’ of SL in the past. Look what happened to Hambantota port. One has to ‘pawn’ one’s soul to get economic assistance from China, which is pittance. Once they have you on the leash, they have you by your clusters. Trade has to be balanced. I agree with Trump here. It is the greed of the multi-nationals and the US consumer who wants more (often garbage and unnecessary commodities which do not last long) for less.

    China could never outclass the US society, with all it’s misgivings. Even the SL politicians are changing constitution to retain the US citizenship.

    Given the choice where would you go for a better life or for education.

    Thanks China, you helped us when faced against the LTTE. The Tamil speaking LTTE diaspora led us there. Ranil paid you for it by giving you permanent presence in SL.

  • 0
    1

    We don’t have to write a book here, but balanced global trading is beneficial all. Some half-baked are repeatedly prating as Imperialism-Globalization Stalinism…… But Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Israel, many countries in ME ……….. all traded with West & turned out to be miracles. When Lankawe was trading tea, rubber, cloth….. with West it too was OK. Professor Kumar just because living in next door to Thero de Silva, he too has been possessed by this Neo, imperial, liberal, alt- like many diseases. As matter of fact, unlike communism and its Marxian economic system, which were frozen in 200 years ago, democracy and competitive trading are dynamic. The “people ruling” philosophy has moved far away from its origination (about 300 years ago). The mechanism needed to hold democracy & competition on steady progressive path has grown a lot. Like Lankawe’ 13A American system too took a leap frog jump with Lincoln’s civil war. So if you call America under slavery was a democracy, it cannot be in democracy still. What is this saying democracy and completion has to grow in indepth, basic concepts as civilization grows. I have to write lot to connect this with Professor K. static comparison of China and America, to conclude China going to wipe out America, a grandma’s night time story for kids.

  • 0
    0

    It was Japan, now without offensive arms, captured and ruled all East, starting of last century. We don’t know if allied forces would have won Nazis without USSR. Japan still remained not subdued. But when USSR was about to meddle in that America won Japan in few days. Before that Japanese Hara-kiri warriors had done enough damage to American ships and planes. But America was doing a sloppy war with Japan. They say the bear fight with a lion like lion and fight with a rabbit like a rabbit. A bear doesn’t waste energy. It is so stupid for these smart analysts to think that America lost in Vietnam so Vietnam can win America. Because it is democratic force, it fought with Germany, Japan and Vietnam with different strategies. USSR, towards the end, it had many more atomic missiles and bombs than USA. But its Mistake, it got tangled into Afghanistan & went wiped of world. But remember; little earlier to Brezhnev invade Afghanistan, Nikita Khrushchev, installed atomic missiles in Cuba to take ready on USA. USSR could not stand for one Afghanistan war but America stood for couple of that nature wars. So, if one asks you, in a horse race, whether you would bet on a tortoise or on hare, then these analysts should not be prating but should come out with real logic whether to bet the money on tortoise or hare.

  • 0
    0

    USA and EU nations cannot halt the high growth of China. Trump is attempting to ensure the prosperity of USA by creating conditions for Mexico, USA and Canada to become a sustainable economy that cannot be held to ransom by China, EU or any other nation. He is also not prepared to take any chances with the possible transfer of technology by any devices in software such as TicK Toc or hardware such as Huawei phones. EU is following USA with similar policies. This is the beginning of the end of multi-lateral treaties and the power of UN over these power blocs.

  • 3
    0

    Below is an extract from
    https://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/default/files/2020-08-25-debunking-myth-debt-trap-diplomacy-jones-hameiri.pdf
    *
    “This chapter has disproven the debt-trap diplomacy claims surrounding Hambantota Port. China did not propose the port; the project was overwhelmingly driven by Sri Lankan actors for their own domestic purposes, with some input from a Chinese SOE acting for commercial reasons. Sri Lanka’s debt trap was thus primarily created as a result of domestic policy decisions and was facilitated by Western lending and monetary policy, and not by the policies of the Chinese government. China’s aid to Sri Lanka involved facilitating investment, not a debt-for-asset swap. The story of Hambantota Port is, in reality, a narrative of political and economic incompetence, facilitated by lax governance and inadequate risk management on both sides.”
    *
    The study makes valid criticisms of China’s handling of loans etc., but dismisses the debt trap narratives, specifically in the contexts of Malaysia and Sri Lanka.
    It will be useful, despite our respective prejudices, to cross check information before regurgitating material dished out by the likes of Trump and hyperactive propaganda machines.
    *
    BTW
    “Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, is independent and owes no allegiance to any government or to any political body. It does not take institutional positions on policy issues”

    • 0
      0

      The whole thing is rubbish. Lending on needed – viable project is not debt trapping. What was the use of an stadium in jungle while no garments factories built in North East for women to work and use GSP+.
      First thing, people should understand what debt is and what debt trap is. Old King has defended that India refused to take build Hangbangtota harbor (Meaning commercially not viable). So everybody is babies, have no head to understand what was behind that defense? All over the world China so why did China under take these contracts? How many of these China undertook in Myanmar?
      India had asked many times to work on Colombo and Trinco ports, Aanduwas are delaying for opportunity to give it to China and pocket the money. India is exporting 80% of its transshipment through Colombo Harbor. How many times Old King offered that management to India? Don’t we know what happened in Kantalai Sugar Factory?
      Belarus only remaining opposition leader is kidnapped by their murderous police. Russian opposition leader just woke up from comma for a month. “Katai Kadda Oruvan piranthuviddal Kannaki Valvilum Kalanakamundu. Kaaparra Silaper Irunthtu Vdiddal Thirudarkal Valvilum Niyamundu” . We have read enough of “Zero Casualty” Lankawe con-artists’ proves of it all over in Colombo Media. China has to be isolated and punished by world for spreading Covid-19, a germ weapon

  • 0
    0

    A comment I wrote elsewhere.Because of recent Covid relaxation, I decided to read the recent Forbes list for safest countries to travel, expecting Lanka to be number one. I was shocked to see Lanka in 92 nd position out of 100, Guinea,Nigeria, Serbia, South Africa were below us, Even India , Brazil, Venezuela were above us. So I called my friend who is close to current Govt. He shot back “dont you know Forbes is a US magazine with irritation in his voice, I hesitatingly replied “but I see China is ranked 7 and USA is in 55”. He took few minutes to digest and said “oh is it so, those jealous Americans hate us more than Chinese. I thanked him and put the phone down and told my family instead of Lanka we are going to Singapore to visit my close relative,whom I have not met for a long time. For many denial has no limits.

  • 0
    0

    Not U.S but anyone cannot stop China,s economic development. In fact Obama had maintained through out that a strong China is good for US and in general for the world. As some one mentioned US private firms found their money/market( not govt)in China because of their buying power.Also for political stability and regional security Obama maintained such policy. But he was the first to pressurize on preventing technology /patent theft and brought new laws to take appropriate action. He also insisted to opening the currency which China dilly dallied as they usually do. But Trump being him self, went directly to sanctions and when that did not bring desired result (in his mind)more sanctions.China may be economically strong but for people to think US is weak, will be of repeating the same mistake of under estimating, at their own peril.

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