America’s China myopia.
Today for all the shame of our administration, despite the nationwide suffering from the mishandled pandemic, and despite the social and racist gap between the few very rich and the legions of the very poor – the United States remains the world’s only super power. It is still the go to place for refugees, and for investors looking to husband their treasure.
But only just – we are living on borrowed time, and we are doing it badly.
This earthly Eden that so many of us have enjoyed has been jeopardized from within by an administration entirely corrupt in its ideas, values or global understanding led by a team whose actions so break the spirit of our nation as to amount to betrayal. The legacy of four shameful years will take decades to put right .
Just take the story with China .China is at the core of our short sighted strategies. For the rest, we have had the game to ourselves since the end of World Wars 1 and 2. Throughout Europe has needed, and still needs, strong and sympathetic support at all levels as it struggles with its 75 years of war, genocide and economic collapse . It is by no means out of the woods. Europe is no competition even though several of its storied nations have gdp levels well above ours .
Russia as always a pariah, an empty ,if darkly malicious, vessel was never and is not now a competitor. Its average gdp per capita is barely 25% of ours.
But China was always going to be a different ball game. It’s vast history, its huge population, and its transformational economic record over the last decade overwhelm that of all other nations. They point to it as the first true and lasting competitor to US dominance. one that will not go quietly into that good night .
History first: there have been nine hyperpowers* in modern history culminating in the British Empire, whose century began in 1805 and culminated in 1900, and then the United States. Of these nine, China alone has been the hyper power not once but twice before – China has form. Its scale is no less daunting. throughout history the Chinese have made up between 25% and 33% of the people living on the globe. Today its 1.4 billions dwarf the population of the EU (500 million) and ours in the US (320 million) – a world leading consumer society is in the making. As to its recent record we have underestimated them. It has become the world manufacturing and AI power house. We were the birthplace of automobiles – China is now the world’s manufacturer . Blinded by the false allure of short term capitalism we have done nothing about our decaying infrastructure . We have for example no high speed rail system. China has enough to link our east and west coasts twice over. In the time their economy changing investment has been made we have struggled to build just 500 miles of track to link San Francisco with Los Angeles. Projected to complete by 2008, the most recent estimate is 2029, with a $35 billion overrun!
It has been plain as night follows day that China will truly threaten our supremacy in short order – our century is over. The crucial challenge facing the world will be just how sophisticated, sensitive and effective we are in jointly managing this inevitable challenge. How will these two great nations handle their new status – is it possible to have a shared duopoly for the first time in history. The alternatives are all unthinkable.
There are all manner of obstacles to an easy transition to power sharing. But there are also real opportunities for those with the eyes to see and the heart to hazard the game. Climate Change, transformational technologies, dealing with poverty, health care and education – the challenges that matter for all of us are global challenges. They cry out for international collaboration. These are massive opportunities – win wins for everyone. This is the time. 200,000 Americans do not need to die in the next pandemic; billions of dollars do not need to be thrown into the ignored heat of climate change; we can all benefit from the next steps in the next technologies and collectively the horrors of the third world can be addressed.
The White House approach of sour, bitter and unchristian tit for tat could scarcely be less appropriate. We are out of time and out of step. \We have capriciously lost the trust of the most useful alliances with Europe. And our policy toward China displays the egregious incompetence that has characterized the White House from the start. Trying to destroy Chinese companies by politicizing the stock market, threatening university and domestic funds to divest themselves of Chinese shares and constraining corporate and educational collaboration means constraining the very capitalist record of which we are so proud. You, I and the tax payer will all suffer. Calling the emerging super power our enemy number one is sheer crass rubbish – doing so without a shred of evidence is another act of betrayal of the integrities that go with office. Which US company can now plan for overseas investment with any confidence in the acts of its own administration? Is it any surprise that China is now investing in a steady replacement of America’s end of the supply chain for new technologies, for chip manufacture and for general trade.
Our nation needs an entirely new leadership. Yes we need to overhaul, update and transform the whole concept of capitalism and embrace a far more sophisticated mixed economy that helps all Americans and leads to value added improvements around the world. It should no longer be the retro, historically fascist “America First” but “America for the World”. We do not have much of an option or the next generation is going to inherit a declining economy increasingly in the shadows of an emerging China – a hyper power for the third time, with a home market three times that of ours, and within touching distance of taking over as the world’s currency. Then it will be too late.
Have a good day. James.
*Amy Chua: Day of Empire.